The Mech Touch Chapter 694

693 Leviathan Remnan

Ves waved his hand, causing the projection of the Gun Whale to minimize and the other two mechs to fill up the air. "The Haatumak mech models that I've designated as the Snapper Dolphin and the Strangler Squid serve as their melee spaceborn combatants."

"Of the two, the most numerous of them consists of the Snapper Dolphin. While their appearance may suggests they are ranged mechs as they have a pair of laser barrels attached to their flanks, their real purpose is to perform hit and run attacks with their un-dolphin like snapper beaks. I'm not entirely sure of their power, but the extensive musculature that must be hidden underneath its thick neck leads me to suggests they can easily snap an Inheritor mech in half!"

"What are your suggested counters for the Snapper Dolphin?" Major Verle calmly asked.

"Its weaknesses are self-evident. I think any mech officer can figure out a way to counter it considering that its fighting style resembles lancer mechs." Ves shrugged. It wasn't as if these types of spaceborn mechs had never shown up before. "They aren't as well-armored as the Gun Whales, so they rely more on their speed to survive. The dolphin-esque mech frame is fairly inflexible as all of its armaments are permanently directed towards its front. While that makes it a lot stronger than an equivalent humanoid mech in a frontal clash, it can't effectively defend itself from the flanks and rear. Surrounding it or boxing it in with superior numbers is an effective way to leave them with no escape."

Nothing he said sounded anything different from established mech tactics. Ves wasn't a mech officer after all. He only learned some superficial tactics in school and most of his progress in this area came from studying the way the Flagrant Vandals coordinated their mechs and employed their formations.

"And the final mech?"

"The Strangler Squid as I call it is their lightest, fastest and but potentially most lethal mech. It doesn't carry any ranged armaments at all, but it makes up for that with fairly light mass and a powerful flight system augmented with auxiliary boosters. Its main modus operandi seems to close in on a mech and envelop it with its tentacles. I'm not sure what kind of weapon system is hiding in the tentacles, as its articulated construction makes them very poor when used as a sword or club. My guess is that its limbs are either capable of secreting acid or electrifying anything caught within its grasp."

"Can they be countered in the same way as our Inheritors?"

"Effectively, yes." He nodded, acknowledging the similarities between the Inheritors and the Strangler Squids despite their wildly different shapes and design philosophies. "The Strangler Squids don't suffer the directional weaknesses of the Snapper Dolphins. It's fast, agile and the boosters integrated in the tentacles only enhances their overall mobility during critical moments. Just like the Inheritor, it's a cheap design that prioritizes speed above everything else, to the point of outperforming the humanoid design in this aspect."

The squid shape lent itself well to mobility-focused mech designs. The overall shape of squid-like animals evolved from an aquatic environment, which had more in common with moving in space than moving on land.

The legs of the Inheritor mechs really didn't serve any important purposes except to act as makeshift armor, making it more convenient to move in and out of the hangar bay, and to make mech pilots feel more comfortable about piloting a complete human-shaped mech.

"Are there any other insights you'd like to share about the Haatumak's mechs, Mr. Larkinson?"

He collected his thoughts for a few seconds. He picked up a lot of subtleties from the scans, but the problem was that most of his guesses couldn't easily be substantiated. The data he derived from his analysis might not be very relevant to non-mech designers either.

"All three mech designs from the Church of Haatumek carry the undeniable flavor of a mech designer with an aquatic mech background. The Gun Whale, Snapper Dolphin and Strangler Squids might differ from aquatic mechs with the inclusion of flight systems and the ability to operate in space, but I bet their behavior and fighting style will largely resemble their aquatic counterparts."

"What should we be cautious about, then?"

"Aquatic mechs are.. hmmm.. linear. Besides the Strangler Squids, you can expect the other two mech models to prefer to move in straight lines and base their tactics around that limitation."

"This does not sound too dissimilar to the conditions facing normal spaceborn mechs." Verle pointed out. As a mech pilot he should know how difficult it was to change the momentum of a mech already flying in space.

Ves couldn't voice much else without causing more confusion, so he refrained some revealing more information.

In truth, he sensed something strange about their designs. Besides the obvious fact that they appear to be designed by an aquatic mech designer who somehow ended up in space, the designs all carried something foreign. The only problem was that Ves couldn't quite pin down what he found so strange about their designs.

Whoever designed those mechs did a good job at hiding anything that Ves could use to define their design philosophy and where they came from. He suspected that the aquatic mech designer might even be a foreigner who fled all the way to the frontier to escape pursuit.

"Have you ever seen the three mech models in action, Ketis?" He asked.

"Are you kidding? Of course not." She shook her head. "The Swordmaidens never stick around if they could help it. The Haatumak worshippers are way too unsettling. It's like you're constantly being stared at by hungry beasts who are waiting to devour your flesh. When you step aboard the Temple, you'll know what I mean."

The appointment the Flagrant Swordmaidens had made with the Church of Haatumak obligated them to send a delegation of representatives to their Temple. Ves and Mayra were both included on the guest list as they were each the highest-ranking mech designers of their respective forces.

Ketis wasn't invited this time, though she didn't appear to be too upset about this missed opportunity.

"Believe me, you really don't want to stay any longer on their Temple than necessary. Stepping on her decks is like walking into a swamp filled with fog. The smell is disorienting and whatever incense they put in the air is practically being cycled throughout the entire ship! Then there's the worshippers themselves…"

She shuddered, as if reliving a bad memory. "Once I saw them face-to-face, I understood why civilized space kicked them out. Even most people here in the frontier don't want them around here. The only reason why they've been allowed to stay is because of their ability to hide our ships from the long-ranged detection methods of the sandmen."

From what Ves had been told, their delegation would arrive with a light guard but in full pirate regalia. That meant that everyone would be wearing the flashiest outfits imaginable.

He thought that religious nuts wouldn't be affected by someone else's appearances, but evidently he was wrong. The worshippers of Haatumak were still human in that sense.

Some time later, the Flagrant Swordmaidens fell into a stable, higher orbit around Mortose I. The unassuming planet looked remarkably like Old Earth, though a bit less lush.

Mortose I had an interesting history. Treasure hunters originally stumbled upon the planet when it still held a completely alien biosphere, but they found that it just required a little push to make it habitable to humans.

They came back later and employed some cheap and dirty methods to turn it into a human-friendly world. They introduced genetically modified alien flora and fauna that aggressively took over everything native.

The indigenous plants and wildlife had never evolved to withstand a threat from outer space! To them, the introduction of human-related species was an outside-context problem that they never prepared any counter-measures for!

The results could be imagined. Within several decades, almost every trace of Mortose I's original lifeforms had been eradicated, and the planet firmly became inhabitable by humans, to some degree.

To this date, the planet hosted various settlements, each numbering tens of thousands of sons and daughters of the frontier. That didn't sound like much, but that allowed them to hide their settlements from both greedy pirates and energy-hungry sandmen.

The Temple of Haatumak evidently conducted some business with the underground settlements, but she would be moving away after some time.

Ves entered the hangar bay and stepped aboard an armored shuttle that carried their complete delegation. Aside from four largely ceremonial guards in slightly gaudy armor, everyone else appeared ready to attend a costume party!

Everyone had been allowed to step aboard the Temple of Haatumak in heavy combat armor or lighter. For obvious reasons, exoskeleton armor was not allowed.

Because nobody thought they stood a chance if the Church of Haatumak turned against them on their own ship, most of the officers opted to pay a visit in light or medium combat armor.

Almost everyone from Major Verle to Chief Engineer Avanaeon wore suits of armor coated in black-and-burgundy and embellished with silver or golden skulls or other inane symbols. The armorers had a lot of fun applying the nonsensical symbols and surrounding them with meaningless frills onto the surface of their armor suits.

Lush capes like the one that Ves had already worn completed the impression that they were a group of high-ranking pirates with delusions of grandeur.

Some of the Vandal officers found their current appearances to be highly embarrassing! None of them managed to adjust to the culture shift of wearing such attention-grabbing outfits. However, they all understood the necessity of adhering to this local custom, as they needed to impress both the Church of Haatumak and the thousands of pirate visitors that for some reason or another stuck around aboard the Temple.

The shuttle lifted off from the flight deck and smoothly exited the hangar into open space. Strapped into his seat, Ves summoned up a small projection from his armrest that displayed a small glimpse of the many ships and mechs in orbit.

The massive shape of the Temple of Haatumak wooshed by for a few seconds.

"Impressive, is she not?" Avanaeon waved his hand at the projection. "They found a two-kilometer long exobeast skeleton that's in pristine condition and managed to build a functional ship out of old cargo haulers and a lot of junk. That's the frontier in a nutshell."

Ves understood his point. The huge Temple showed that you could still build a functional capital ship without a fancy shipyard or a prohibitive amount of expensive resources. However, despite the practicality of her inner structure, the seemingly superfluous skeleton wrapped around her hull was a cultural necessity rather than a technical one!

"What's in fashion in one star sector may not be comprehensible to another star sector. Extending this rule to unclaimed star regions isn't that much of a stretch." Ves replied.

"Fashionable or not, the sooner we get rid of these clown-like suits of armor, the better!"

A chief engineer and a head designer both shouldn't be wearing armor suits in the first place.

While they commisserated on the idiosynchrasies of the frontier, the shuttle began to approach one of the public hangar bays of the Temple of Haatumak. As the distance closed to within a couple of hundred kilometers, Ves briefly paused his chat with Avanaeon after sensing something remarkable from his sixth sense!Find authorized novels in Webnovel,faster updates, better experience,Please click for visiting.

His eyes widened and he focused the projection back on the massive vessel. He actually felt something from the ship herself!

"What am I sensing? It's huge! Is it.. The spiritual remnants of that creature?!"

What he sensed was both massive and and decayed to the point of disappearing from this plane of existence entirely. Ves had never sensed something so powerful yet so hollow. A mass of contradictory thoughts flitted through his mind.