Trying to take a bite out of Zeigra's spirituality was like trying to bite a ball made out of compressed alloy. All Ves could accomplish from this act was breaking his teeth!
After two more tries, Ves knew better than to make another attempt to secure a small prize for himself. Zeigra's active and belligerent spiritual presence maintained a state of high vigilance. It left no openings at all for Ves to abscond with a borrowed spiritual fragment!
Since Ves saw no hope of damaging Zeigra's spirituality by taking a bite out of it, he quickly tried to come up with alternative means.
His main objective did not encompass crushing Zeigra's spirituality. Neither did Ves hope to siphon away a spiritual fragment.
Those were just opportunistic goals that he would fulfill if he possessed the strength and ability to do so.
As his broken spiritual teeth attested to, the strength of his spiritual projection was far too inadequate to make a dent in Zeigra's spiritual defenses!
In the back of his mind, he always maintained the faint hope that he possessed the power to decide the outcome of a battle between two spiritually strong entities!
\"As if!\" Ves shook his head.
His design seed monopolized the majority of his spiritual energy. What he had left hardly constituted anything that could pose a serious threat to expert pilots, especially if they were awake and on guard.
Instead, Ves realized that expert pilots appeared to be exceptionally suitable for launching attacks in the imaginary realm.
Their spirituality took the form of a force of will.
In truth, a force of will was a fancy description for a collection of spiritual energy that underwent a qualitative transformation.
The critical aspect that defined the force of will was that it gained a lot of strength by fusing them with the strong willpower of an expert pilot.
\"It's essentially a process of weaponizing spiritual energy in its misty form!\"
What Ves was doing right now, expert pilots could do at least ten or even a hundred times better! Perhaps the reason why Ves hadn't seen any signs of expert pilots doing so was because they weren't aware of the imaginary realm.
\"I'll have to look into this sometime.\" Ves mentally muttered. \"How much do expert pilots know? And how aware is the MTA of this intangible realm that connects everyone's spirituality?\"
He suspected that out of the major trans-galactic organization, only the Five Scrolls Compact knew more.
In any case, since Ves didn't possess the strength to attack Zeigra directly, he instead opted to annoy it and disrupt whatever it was doing.
Even though Ves continued to burn through his spirituality while he remained near, Zeigra's spiritual presence only diverted a small part of its attention to the annoying fly that buzzed all over the place.
In addition, while the quantities of spiritual energy between them differed a lot, their quality was roughly on par!
Actually, Ves discovered that the quality of his spirituality was a bit richer than that of the Crown Cat!
All of this meant that the expenditure of spiritual energy on his part was within a tolerable range. As long as he kept his presence here brief, he'd be able to top off his losses with the excess spirituality that he accumulated in his P-stone.
He truly felt like a fly trying to annoy a human. His spiritual projection hardly posed a threat to Zeigra's spiritual presence. However, the Crown Cat definitely bore some discomfort, as evidenced by how much pressure he lifted from Vescas!
The spiritual product breathed a little easier now that the oppressive Crown Cat no longer exerted his complete attention onto the design spirit of the Kinslayer!
The results were felt in the battle taking place in the material realm as Zeigra's responses and aggressive attacks yielded less results.
Lady Miralix and her subordinates swiftly noticed the difference. They mistook Zeigra's weakness as a sign that the huge cat was starting to succumb to attrition!
\"He's getting tired! He hasn't had a good rest in days! Keep bleeding him! We have to sap his strength as much as possible!\"
Only a couple of minutes had passed, but none of the mechs in the battle looked great. Zeigra successfully caught one of the spearman mechs and battered it into a wreck. Its mech pilot, eager to avoid the fate of his dead comrade, managed to eject in time.
Still, the loss of yet another melee mech meant that the Catstrikers no longer managed to contain the Crown Cat. Zeigra eagerly took advantage of his increased freedom of movement by battering every other mech in the way to run down the sole rifleman mech!
The Kinslayer desperately followed Zeigra on his heels, but the injured Crown Cat moved so abruptly that his initial advantage was hard to overcome!
\"My ammunition is almost spent! I'm ejecting! Sorry, commander!\" The mech pilot of the remaining rifleman mech transmitted before decisively activating the ejection command!
As the cockpit of the rifleman mech threaded between the tree trunks and flew off into the distance, the vengeful Crown Cat leapt onto the prone and lifeless mech and angrily tore out its limbs while biting big chunks out of its thin frame!
Metal crunched between the Crown Cat's teeth before he swallowed his prize. The huge cat's eyes already started to shift back and forth, as if contemplating his escape route.
\"Zeigra is looking to escape!\" One of the sharp-eyed hunting consultants in the command center transmitted to the mechs in the field. \"He's approaching his limits! Keep exerting pressure! Whatever you are doing is working!\"
\"Close in but surround our target from the sides!\" Lady Miralix screamed and pushed forth her Kinslayer into a direct confrontation against the Crown Cat! \"Make sure to cover as many escape routes as possible! We have to contain him here or all of our sacrifices will be in vain!\"
She had no other choice but to launch a direct challenge against the injured huge cat! Only two mechs remained standing, and both of them were already at the end of their ropes!
The spearman mech and axeman mech maneuvered to the sides but refrained from getting close. With all of the damage they incurred, their mech pilots doubted that they could inflict any serious damage onto Zeigra while most of his hide was still intact!
Even though Zeigra's mineral and exotic-infused hide largely looked intact, all of the damage it withstood during the battle had taken a toll on its integrity. Zeigra's hindquarters and flanks leaked out blood from several nasty cuts as the Kinslayer's claws and a few errant spear and axe strikes managed to pierce through the hide or expand its existing wounds.
These wounds now presented the only hope of defeating Zeigra! This seemingly unstoppable Crown Cat no longer seemed invincible now that his hide presented several tantalizing openings which exposed the creature's softer flesh!
A rush of excitement and battle mania swirled her mind. The fight she had been waiting for had finally arrived! The prospect of fighting a one-on-one duel between her Kinslayer and Zeigra did not frighten her at all. Instead, she embraced the moment, betting the entirety of her life and her future on this battle!
She never entertained any thoughts of retreating at all!
\"Either you die, or I die! If I can't return with your head as my trophy, I might as well be buried within your stomach! For the hunt!\"
\"For the hunt!\"
\"For the hunt!\"
The Kinslayer circled around Zeigra, as if trying to get an angle at the Crown Cat's wounded parts.
Despite her battle euphoria, Lady Miralix knew very well that attacking Zeigra from the front was a bad idea!
Just like most cat-like species, Zeigra was at his most dangerous when oriented towards his front! The Crown Cat could easily bring most of his offensive power such as his forelimbs and his devastating maw to bear upon any opponent opting to face it in a head-on collision!
As much as Lady Miralix put her trust in her Kinslayer, this fight was still very much uneven!
As a result, she decided to maneuver her Kinslayer in a circle around Zeigra, hoping to obtain an opportunity to savage the huge cat's open and bleeding wounds!
Zeigra released a frustrated roar at the tiger mech. All of the circling by the mech forced the tiring cat to awkwardly spin around in place in order to maintain his facing towards the mech shaped like his own species.
Meanwhile, his discomfort during the battle deepened as a part of him that he might not be aware of endured its own suffering!
Back in the imaginary realm, Ves had spent quite some time trying to buzz around Zeigra's spiritual presence. While he faintly believed he was making a difference considering the pressure on Vescas lessened, Ves believed he wasn't doing enough to tip the battle in his favor!
A part of his consciousness briefly directed his attention towards the footage and the telemetry projected in front of his physical body. He rapidly took in the state and the battle and realized the pivotal confrontation between Zeigra and the Kinslayer had commenced!
Ves realized that to win, he not only had to prevent Zeigra from employing his strange ability onto the Kinslayer.
He also had to make sure that Vescas still held up against the pressure exerted by the Crown Cat!
When Ves studied the condition of his spiritual product, he found out that Vescas' spiritual presence in the imaginary realm started showing cracks.
Vescas was a flawed and rudimentary creation to begin with. Ves created him out of a combination of his spiritual energy and the Dragon Cat's remnant energy. Now that it was starting to take on damage, its structure that glued the two types of spiritual energies together began to unravel!
\"Damnit! My creation is too fragile!\"
If Vescas had more time to grow up, then it might have been able to patch up its flawed and makeshift structure and refine it into a more coherent whole.
However, Ves only created it recently. Throwing it in battle after merely a week of maturing and exposure to Lady Miralix's mind was way too soon!
\"The difference in development is too large!\"
Ves decided to cease his paltry efforts and began to direct his spiritual projection to Vescas' spiritual presence.
After a moment's thought, Ves decided to approach the damaged spiritual entity and feed it some of his spiritual energy.
The infusion, though small, made a substantial contribution! It was as if Ves had added some fuel to Vescas' nearly-empty tanks!
Ves carefully fed more of his spiritual energy to his spiritual product, knowing that the latter could absorb it without too much effort.
\"You're my creation, after all! Even if you've become an independent existence, you still carry a part of me in your spiritual DNA!\"
Ves slightly winced at the losses he suffered. His spiritual energy expenditure had reached the point where he would have exhausted his remaining reserve of excess spiritual energy.
Now he was suffering from a real deficit! The longer this went on, the more time he needed to replenish his losses!
\"I have to make this quick! I don't want to spend another couple of months without the drive to design a mech! I'll go crazy at that rate!\"
If a mech designer no longer enjoyed the process of designing a mech, then what was the point of continuing with his profession?
Fortunately, Vescas did not require too much milk from its mother in order to become sated. The spiritual product was still a weaker spiritual entity than Ves, so its capacity to absorb additional energy was limited.
Ves had merely supplied Vescas with enough spiritual energy to restore its defenses against the pressure exerted by Zeigra's spiritual presence.
\"That's enough to keep you intact for a couple of minutes!\"
Considering the raging battle taking place in the material realm, Ves estimated that the battle would soon be coming to a close! As long as Vescas managed to stand its ground, then Zeigra would not be able to employ his spiritual superiority with impunity!
\"There's still one more thing I can do, I think!\"
His spiritual projection regarded Vescas in a different light. The brief contact he made with his spiritual product opened up his eyes to another possible way he could tip the balance in his favor!