Jaded Serpent's personal steed appeared to be a pure swordsman mech. Even Ves got fooled by its appearance and dazzling performance that he never expected it to pop up miniature flame spitters.
While the nefarious burning liquids stuck on the Cathrec, Captain Kaine quickly pulled back her mech and made a radical decision. She rolled the Cathrec onto the ground, managing to brush aside most of the flames in the process.
She proved her skill with that move. Her mech rolled across the ground for three revolutions without putting too much of the mech's weight onto anything that couldn't bear the momentary pressure.
Many lesser pilots failed to control their mechs as good as she did and broke the arms or even the heads of their mechs. The Cathrec's armor system gained a large amount of ugly burn marks on its surface. It showcased its lack of strength against heat damage, of which nobody on the expedition expected to face on the ground.
"You're mine now!" Jaded Serpent roared and drove his mech into a punishing offensive that forced the Cathrec into straits. The flurry of blows prevented the white mech from regaining its balance.
Ves wondered when Commander Tregis released the refurbished Kaius.
"Not yet." D'Amato said, shaking his head. "The pirates still have too much fight in them. The Kaius is best used when they run out of steam. The goal is to shatter the exhausted pirates into pieces so that they can't form an effective raiding force anymore."
Such a strategy required a lot of patience and sacrifice. Even now, many mercenary mechs started falling under the weight of numbers. Fortunately, most of their pilots managed to escape death by ejecting their cockpits.
Even as they fell, the defenders stopped the pirate mechs in their tracks. Half of the pirate mechs consisted of cheap frontline mechs with no heads and weapon barrels for arms. Their deficient armor made them sitting ducks for the railgun wielding defenders, who took them out with two or three carefully aimed projectiles.
Ves noticed that the pirate mechs weren't using proper tactics. None of them adhered to the loose formation determined at the start and simply tried to swarm the damaged walls with fanatic glee. It reminded him of the first space battle between the expeditionary fleet and the harassing pirate fleet.
"The pilots of the pirate mechs look like they're drugged and brainwashed."
"It's difficult to scrounge willing cannon fodder. Pirates can be some of the biggest cowards in the galaxy. They value their lives above loyalty and brotherhood."
The Dragons of the Void certainly proved their ruthlessness by discarding so many lives and mechs. With the mech pilots fighting without regard for their lives, their ferocity steadily overpowered the beleaguered defenders even with their technological superiority.
In these fraught circumstances, one mercenary group took up the warbanner and fought back with twice the grit. As one of House Kaine's mercenary partners, Adila's Chosen had never really showed off their capabilities. Unlike George's Cavalry and the Stray Phantoms which often saw action, the religious group largely remained in reserve.
Their mechs consisted of sturdy medium mechs that might not be fast, but could take hit or two. They boldly wielded heavy flails that bashed aside the lighter mechs in a single blow.
Ves became impressed by the way they wielded the flails. The spiked alloy ball at the end of the chain always managed to pierce through a critical portion of the mech being struck.
The mechs of Adila's Chosen momentarily stabilized the faltering lines, though their impact proved limited as they couldn't cover the entire wall. The defenders didn't have much of a reserve besides the Chosen.
"Captain Kaine is still holding on!"
The Cathrec managed to bait its opponent. It parried the last sword strike of the dragon mech and thrust before Jaded Serpent fully recovered.
The spear glanced past one of the swordsman mech's thigh, piercing aside the armor plating with contemptuous ease before dealing shallow but effective internal damage. The dragon mech's mobility suffered a minor loss that proved extremely debilitating in the closely matched duel.
Captain Kaine's Destroyer Weapon showcased its full potential as she used it as a naked threat against Jaded Serpent's sword. The pirate commander clearly wished to avoid the dreaded spear and made sure to leave his sword away from the spear's path.
"How did she get her hands on a Destroyer Weapon?" Ves asked.
"Captain Kaine followed a training course in an institute affiliated with the Terrans." One of the idle scientists replied. "I heard she acquitted herself well enough to win some awards. The Destroyer Weapon is a custom design that's made for her mech."
"She's very lucky to gain such a renowned weapon."
"That she is. You can see how she's regaining the initiative. Even some flames can't stop her resolve."
Many people considered the Greater Terran United Confedation to be a stagnant first-rate superstate that clung to its old ways. They gradually let the New Rubarth Empire overtake them in terms of research and development.
The fairly recent invention of Destroyer Weapons put them back on the map. These special powered weapons used up a lot of energy, but converted almost all of that potential into a field that acted as a molecular disbonder.
Most materials became as fragile as paper when struck by a molecular disbonder. Even many kinds of compressed armor had to give way to the strange new technology.
The Destroyer Weapons quickly gained a reputation for being the ultimate melee weapons and dominated the Terran mech scene.
Unfortunately, the Terrans couldn't enjoy their moment of superiority for long. Their archrivals from the New Rubarth Empire came up with several special alloys that proved to be immune to the effects of a molecular disbonder.
Still, these alloys made use of extremely rare exotics that had only been found in the core regions of the galaxy. Out here in the galactic rim, many prospectors tried to find the valuable materials, but never encountered a trace of it so far. This turned the few Destroyer Weapons that made their way to frontier into the perfect tools to bully the local mechs.
Despite the Cathrec's valiant performance, the rest of the defenders slowly showed signs of breaking.
Even the flail-wielding mechs from Adila's Chosen became entangled when the pirates surrounded them from multiple directions. Their flails hit hard, but it took a lot of time to swing them. The pirates finally wised up and waited until the flails finished their swing before diving in to press the Chosen body-to-body.
Nevertheless, dealing with these strong and daunting mechs was never easy, as they inflicted a lot of damage with their bare hands. The Chosen dished out plenty of damage before they ejected.
"There's hardly any obstacles left!"
The casualties among the pirate mechs had become very tragic, but none of them flinched. The raiders only knew how to go forward and fight. All thoughts of stepping back or preserving their lives had disappeared in their drug-fueled frenzy.
Commander Tregis finally had enough. He couldn't wait any longer to send out his reserve. He ordered the release of their final trump card.
The Kaius stepped forth out of the gates of the inner wall with a mighty animalistic bellow. Its horn-like roar emboldened the defenders while throwing some of the most engaged pirates into a stupor.
Every pirate who caught sight of the Kaius became frightened by its size. The half-living mech made for an intimidating sight as it could tower over heavy mechs.
Even scarier was the fact that despite its bulk, it moved forward with unstoppable momentum. The mighty chimera mech marched closer with six of its limbs working in tandem.
Once it came close to one of the frailest points of the wall, the defenders pulled back and made way for the king of mechs. When some of the more reckless pirate mechs entered the gap in the walls, the Kaius responded by unleashing the laser cannons strapped to the sides of its torso.
An unending torrent of lasers erupted from the cannons. The pilot threw out almost every rule in the book by letting them pulse unendingly like a flickering light.
The sheer amount of power the laser cannons used up went far beyond the usual safety guidelines. A regular heavy mech would have melted all of the barrels by now, but not before sucking out all of its energy cells.
Yet the Kaius still continued to fire without any signs of faltering! All of the excess heat building up in the barrels never had a chance to overheat anything as the augmented heat organ sucked away all of that delicious energy.
"This is the most impressive sight I've ever seen! This is the pinnacle of mechs!"
Even Ves underestimated the actual effectiveness of the improvised setup. The overconfident pirates lost almost a dozen mechs after a couple minutes of unrelenting laser fire. The befuddled pirates kept expecting the laser cannons to stop its self-destructing firing rate, but always ended up with molten mechs.
Once the pirates stopped invading the gap, the Kaius ceased its fire. While the laser cannons didn't have to be afraid of overheating, keeping them active all the time had other effects that quickly wore down the fragile weapons.
Instead of waiting for the pirates to muster up their courage, the Kaius decisively exited through the gap and charged towards the recovering pirate mechs. Its speed insured that none of the drugged-up pirates could muster a proper defense by the time the massive monster reached their midst.
The Kaius released another primal bellow as it practically ran over three mechs in close succession. Its massive weight flattened every mech that fell beneath its limbs into deformed pieces of scrap.
Meanwhile, the Captain Kaine took advantage of Jaded Serpent's retreat at the sight of the intimidating monster mech and raised her mech's spear. "Onwards men! We are invincible!"
The mark of a good leader was their ability to inspire their subordinates. Ves thought that Captain Kaine lacked experience and largely reached her rank due to nepotism. It turned out that she had a keen sense of timing and broadcasted just enough words to rally the defenders.
Even though the Kaius only beat back a portion of the pirate force, its tall presence drew the eye of everyone in the field. The mech smashed its way into the thick of the pirates and lashed out in each direction with its limbs and lasers. None of the mechs that stood in its way lasted more than a couple of blows.
Jaded Serpent finally shook off his amazement and brandished his sword towards the unstoppable beast. "Are you daft! Ranged mechs, fire on this monster! Melee mechs, pull back from here and resume our push at the flanks!"
Despite receiving clear orders, the pirate mechs strained to follow their new instructions. The defenders left the middle for the Kaius and redirected most of their numbers towards the flanks, meeting the pirate push head-on.
Meanwhile, the ranged mechs found their rifles and cannons to be completely ineffective against the virtually indestructible scales of the Kaius. As a mech based off the carcass of a hexapod king, its scales had reached a degree of toughness that could even glance off a couple of railgun projectiles.
The entry of this giant monster and its subsequent rampage completely quelled the momentum of the invaders. Even concentrated volleys of fire accomplished nothing more than disabling the laser cannons, which didn't hurt the core performance of the Kaius at all. With another triumphant roar, the Kaius raced forward on all six limbs and bounded across the field, reaching the rifle-wielding mechs in an instant.
With fast, powerful swipes, the Kaius tore the rifleman mechs into shreds. Their thinner armor and inferior speed branded them as dead mechs walking that awaited their final destruction at the hands of the indomitable monster mech.
As much as the pirates drew their courage from their drugs and brainwashing, they couldn't handle the terror-inducing killing spree of the Kaius. For some of them, the shock tore apart their mental conditioning, which led to a third of the surviving pirate mechs to turn around and flee back to their transports.
"We broke them!"
"Run, you bastards!"
"Chase them to the ends of the universe!"
With the Kaius leading the charge, the more mobile defenders chased after the fleeing raiders and ran them down like dogs. Even Jaded Serpent gave up his attempts to corral his minions into reforming their ranks and joined the overall rout.
As the mechs ran out of sight, Ves let out a deep breath. "We survived."