The Mech Touch Chapter 564
565 To The Brink
The beachhead repelled the monster horde with great difficulty. The genetically modified beasts moved in an uncoordinated mob and attacked the temporary base with mindless frenzy.
"Hold the line! Hold the line, lads!"
Though the weight of the charge almost buckled the Vandal lines, their tight grouping also became their undoing.
"Akkara mechs, open fire!"
The twenty Akkara heavy cannoneers positioned themselves at the left and right wings of the frontlines. Guarded by an ample amount of melee mechs, they unleashed a torrent of firepower at the dumb beasts whose cunning and instincts had been overridden by a genetic backdoor.
It was like shooting fish in a barrel!
The monsters pressed themselves against each other in an effort to push forward. There was not a single chance the skilled mech pilots of the Akkara heavy mechs could miss a single shot when faced with a huge wall of flesh!
Incredibly violent noises emanated from their gun barrels as they mowed down the monsters. The frenzied beasts may have been large, but they weren't too resilient as their flesh lacked any special qualities compared to certain kinds of exobeasts.
Hafner wasn't extravagant enough to lace the Kamwin continent with valuable exotics!
The lack of any metaphysical qualities from the beasts meant that they were basically giant bags of flesh. While their offensive strength was enough to threaten a mech, their lack of defense enabled ranged mechs like the Akkaras to play out their full strength.
Thus, even if the monster horde outnumbered the defending Vandal mechs by three-to-one, the battle slanted heavily towards the latter's favor.
It was at this time that an alert sounded out in the command center of the Shield of Hispania.
"Sir, our sensors are detecting unusual movements from the capital city! The garrison mechs are on the move! Transports are already departing from the spaceport!"
"Where are heading?!"
"The Hafner transports are heading directly towards the beachhead!"
Some of the Vandals cursed a bit. The garrison troops finally made a move. Throughout the invasion, they had kept themselves holed up in their bunkers. Now, they finally moved out their mechs.
"Hafner must have ordered them to abandon their positions in order to reinforce Venerable Foster, sir. A newly advanced expert pilot is worth risking everything on Nova Migolatus I."
The garrison mechs didn't bring too many mechs, and their mech pilots were a far cry from those who served in proper mech regiments. According to the intelligence provided by Peace for Hafner, the rebel group had infiltrated their ranks a lot more extensively compared to Training Camp Quistas. Their inaction up to this point could be directly attributed to rebel interference.
It was likely that the garrison troops wouldn't fight all that hard. As long as they did the motions, their superiors wouldn't be able to fault them that much.
However, their entry into the battlefield was enough to inconvenience the Vandals. The base defenders expended a lot of energy in trying to repel the beast horde. Many melee mechs at the frontline incurred heavy damage, while the Akkara mechs shot themselves dry.
"Make sure to service the Akkara mechs before the garrison troops arrive!"
Ves conveyed Major Verle's priorities to his mech designers, leaving the matter in their hands.
The entry of the garrison troops and the unusual movements of the beasts on the Kamwin continent complicated this operation even further. What the Flagrant Vandals initially conceived as a lightning raid and assassination commission had transformed into a difficult hunt and base defense operation.
A significant amount of mech pilots lost their lives, and an even greater amount of mechs had been trashed. The Vandals lacked the time and manpower to retrieve the latter. Their losses already surpassed their expectations!
And the worst part of it was that none of their actions turned a profit!
"There's nothing about the carcasses of those genetically modified monsters that's worth harvesting." Ves quietly summed up. "The wrecks originating from the mechs of the training camp also isn't enough to make up for our losses."
The more they fought, the more they lost! Scarce and precious mech pilots lost their lives while their machines were too far for the Vandals to salvage. This entire venture was an asset-draining operation. To someone sensitive to money as Ves, this was a nightmare!
"The only way to redeem ourselves is to capture Venerable Foster."
Killing her would earn the Vandals a lot of kudos from Peace for Hafner, but how much was their appreciation worth? Not very much, especially if the group insisted on sticking to the original agreement.
No, the only way for the Vandals to recoup their losses was to capture Venerable Foster alive and treat her as a valuable bargaining chip. It was impossible to convert her to the Bright Republic, but the Vandals could still hold on to her while they renegotiated their agreement with the rebel group.
If Peace for Hafner remained obstinate, then the Vandals might even be able to trade their hostage back to the Hafner Duchy!
Of course, it would be a bad idea for the Vandals to free an expert pilot with a massive grudge against them. Ves figured that the Vandals would likely pretend to entertain the Hafner Duchy's offers in an effort to pressure Peace for Hafner into coughing up more concessions.
However, all of this depended on whether the Vandals could capture the expert pilot successfully. Capturing the ferocious Venerable was easier said than done!
Down on the surface, Venerable Foster managed to hold out for over an hour. With her comrades holding the bulk of the Vandals back, the Mackey Craic managed to disengage from the battle.
However, the Hafner mechs couldn't hold back all of the Vandals, causing around twenty light mechs to go on pursuit.
The Vandals were wary of another counterattack, so the light mechs on her heels did not come too close. They instead pelted the Mackey Craic with the handful of ranged weapons in their possession. Though their accuracy was poor and the damage wasn't all that much per shot, the Mackey Craic's rear armor was much less durable than the Neyvar's rear armor.
One of the complicating factors of the chase was that they occasionally bumped into monster groups. These beasts hadn't made it in time to join the first horde, so they congregated into a second one. Before they joined the main group of monsters, they refrained from attacking any mechs.
However, defending themselves was another matter!
Venerable Foster cleverly dashed towards any grouping of monsters with her mech. The Mackey Craic would then tap them with its sword, causing them to grow angry and defensive. Since the beasts weren't smart enough to distinguish which mech belonged to which side, they indiscriminately attacked every mech in the vicinity even if it belonged to her opponents!
Several times, she successfully incited the beasts and sneaked away at a critical junction. Though it didn't take much effort for her pursuers to put down the dumb beasts, they inevitably lost a lot of time!
One time, the Vandals decided to split up into two. One group held up the beasts while the other group continued the chase.
Venerable Foster impatiently drew them away from the other group before pouncing on them! Before the Vandals could adjust their defense, the Mackey Craic already ran through six mechs in quick succession!
"Scatter! Don't engage Foster directly!"
Only after a mech captain caught up and held her back did Foster turn around and continue her flight. Venerable Foster knew very well that her mech wasn't strong enough to finish them off.
Her counterattack served as a deterrent! If the Vandals thought they could split up and cut off her escape route, then they were badly mistaken! The Mackey Craic still possessed sufficient reserves to finish off her pursuers if they dared to split!
"Come on, you pirates! Kill me if you dare!"
She wasn't entirely in her right mind. She recently experienced a break through and witnessed a traumatic event. The recent transformation of her mind and life phase had left her in an exhausted state. She desperately needed to rest, but the constant fighting forced her push against her limits!
"I can't rest until these pirates are taken care of!"
Through her familiarity of the terrain and the occasional interference from the beasts, Venerable Foster managed to bleed her pursuers. She picked off a couple of mechs each time they made a mistake.
However, an hour in her flight, the Mackey Craic rapidly reached its limit. No matter how well she dodged, the shots coming from the rear occasionally landed a hit. Some of the shots even started to damage her mech's internals, which directly impacted its performance!
In addition, the stresses she exerted on her mech slowly broke down its frame. Cracks already started seeping in, which Venerable Foster compounded each time she forced the Mackey Craic to move past its limits!
"It's getting hot in here." She panted as she checked her heat and energy levels.
Typical to melee mechs, the Mackey Craic did not incorporate an extensive heat management system. While her mech didn't accumulate as much heat as a laser rifleman mech, it didn't hold as much reserves or possess any means of dumping the heat in an expedient manner.
As for the Mackey Craic's energy reserves, the mech performed numerous extreme movements that expended large amounts of power. This mode of operation was extremely inefficient, but Venerable Foster had no choice if she wished to maintain her superiority over the Vandals. Each extreme technique wasted at least twice or thrice as much energy!
The Mackey Craic's energy reserves dipped below twenty percent. This gave Venerable Foster very little leeway. She realized that she wouldn't be able to shake off all of her pursuers during this time.
The only way for her to contest her fate was to fight upfront!
No matter how much she wore out her mech and her own self, she was willing to risk it all!
The Mackey Craic instantly turned around without warning and dove at the pursuing Vandal mechs with a vengeance.
Her mech moved with great momentum as it weaved through most incoming fire. Once her mech reached the closest enemy, its sword instantly flashed through a seam within the armor plating, cutting through a vital component related to the power management system!
While she wasn't a mech designer, her studies had given her an extensive understanding of the anatomy of a mech! Redemption Slash coordinated with the momentum of the mech to deliver a powerful vertical slash that could part through frontal armor with ease.
The only problem with this move was that it consumed way too much energy!
The Mackey Craic moved to the next Vandal and utilized a fast and powerful stab that poked through another universal weak point of her opponent's mech. The sword punched through the armor with ease and penetrated a section of its engage, causing the mech to lose all of its mobility.
Venerable Foster piloted her mech with great effort, trying to spare as much energy as possible. Vandal mechs pressed against the Mackey Craic on all sides. If they managed encircle her and press against her from every direction, her mech would definitely lose all of its mobility!
"Get out of my way! Double Redemption Slash!"
Slashing twice in quick succession while making both blows count was extraordinarily difficult for Foster. If she wasn't an expert pilot, this move would have remained a possible dream for her. Right now, she managed to fell two mechs at once with this move, providing her Mackey Craic some breathing room.
Though the Vandals constantly lost mechs in their attempt to subdue Venerable Foster, they didn't hesitate to throw in more mechs! These wave tactics forced the expert pilot to the brink. Just as she finished off the latest mech that suicided into the Mackey Craic, her mech beeped out a dangerous alarm.
"What?! How can this be?!"
The Mackey Craic's energy reserves had dipped below five percent and was diminishing towards zero at a rapid pace!
The console that projected her mech's current status provided her with the answer. The Vandals had directly attacked the Mackey Craic's energy cells! Though most of them had run dry, the few remaining cells that still supplied energy to her mech had been punctured!
Before she could figure out how to escape, the Mackey Craic finally locked up! Its energy reserves completely ran dry!