The nobility enjoyed an exalted status in the Vesia Kingdom. They stood above the vast majority of commoners in each single aspect. Even the non-hereditary knights who earned their titles through merits also operated within the Kingdom with impunity.
Wealth, power, status and more became within reach if one acquired a noble rank. As a citizen of the more egalitarian Bright Republic, Ves and the rest of his state simply couldn't wrap their heads around why the Vesians accepted the rigid caste-like division of society.
When the experts spoke about the noble phenomenon, they simply shrugged their shoulders and explained it was a matter of culture. In other words, every citizen of a kingdom state had been brainwashed from birth to accept such a backwards-sounding structure.
After all, with the continued advance of science and technology, the ancient justifications such as the Mandate of Heaven, the Divine Right of Kings, superior bloodlines and other such excuses had been debunked as pure excuses.
The various states set up as feudal monarchies simply couched their privileges in more modern terms. Most of the times, the various kingdoms justified their right to rule by pointing out their investment in terraforming the planets and establishing the colonies.
Once the initial population accepted the rulership structure, it slowly became a given that their state would always be ruled by so-called royals and the aristocracy. Humans possessed the capacity to accept all kinds of absurdities as long as everyone else around them believed them as well.
Right now, the entire battle for the Mech Nursery entered a brief pause at the sudden entrance of the Vesian commander. Ves zoomed in on the projection and studied the mech in more detail.
It was definitely a mech that surpassed the typical premium price point. The abundance of jewels and decorative alloys alone must have cost as much as a Blackbeak, but they only made up a portion of the exterior of this flamboyant-looking mech.
Ves peered at the epaulet on the left shoulder of the mech. It depicted a hand holding aloft a notched sword being shone upon by a single golden star.
"So it's a knight."
That meant the noble certainly earned his knighthood through his own efforts. Ves would have rather faced a baron than a knight, because the latter often turned out to be mediocre descendants of brilliant mech pilots.
"Sir Ravanac!" The Chasseurs broadcasted in the open. Their morale instantly surged while the morale of the defenders plummeted.
This Sir Ravanac calmly stepped forward as if he was approaching a picnic instead of a battle. His mech consisted of a mace-wielding medium melee mech. It carried a heavy two-handed mace that looked heavy enough to crunch the armor of any unmech. Only comechs such as the Blackbeaks appeared to be sturdy enough to withstand a direct hit.
The more Ves studied its design, the more his expression soured. "This mech is too high-class!"
He should have anticipated that the raiding force would be led by a noble who piloted a powerful mech. His machine alone could wipe out every defending mech with ease as long as the rest of the Chasseurs and the Monkeys tied them down.
Ves knew he had to intervene in person. He turned away from the central projectors and moved to exit the command center.
"Tell Melkor to stall the noble as long as he can!"
As he ran through the halls and reached the surface, he stepped on a small but swift floater platform and commanded it to convey him right towards the breach.
The speed of the platform caused the wind to whip against his form, but the floater platform's sophisticated antigrav modules and inertial dampeners allowed him to comfortably remain on his feet.
Even as he travelled to the front, Ves kept his eye on his comm, which projected what happened once the noble reached the battle.
Melkor tried to approach and drag out the fight by engaging in a conversation with the kngiht, but Sir Ravanac did not brook any further delays.
"Enough! Press the attack! Wipe out these Republican dogs and smash this entire factory into pieces!"
The Chasseurs resumed their fight with twice as much vigor now that their noble commander personally took charge.
The mechs from Sanyal-Ablin had almost reached their breaking point, and this sudden push only accelerated their inevitable defeat. Even with the Avatars of Myth backing them up, they wouldn't last very long.
Sir Ravanac's mace-wielding mech entered the fray as well. Melkor quickly decided to command his two knight mech pilots to divert the noble as long as possible.
The two Blackbeaks moved to stall Sir Ravanac's mech. Unlike before where they faced a sluggish heavy mech, Sir Ravanac possessed a much better balance between power, speed and armor. Sir Ravanac's abundant experience also allowed him to maneuver around the chaotic battlefield in a way that prevented the Blackbeaks from pincering it from two different directions.
While the Chasseurs led by their commander almost overran the defenders, the battle at the flanks fared no better for the defenders.
Dietrich, Fadah and the handful of veterans failed to stiffen the backs of their rookie pilots. The quick and agile mechs of the Meandering Monkeys constantly played tricks on the newly recruited Whalers. In every area short of weight class, the mechs of the Whalers fell short compared to the Vesian machines.
"Sorry Ves!" Dietrich sent out as his aerial marksman supported his rookies from a low altitude. If he flew any higher, he risked being shot from the air by the frontline mechs that supported the light mechs from the rear. "We can't get rid of these Vesian light mechs! It's taking all we can to preserve our mechs!"
With no further hope for reinforcements, the Mech Nursery was about to be broken through. Without a cohesive force of mechs to stop the raiding force, the Vesians would easily be able to penetrate past the gates and wreak havoc inside the underground floors.
The various defenses and barriers integrated in the tunnels would only slow down the Vesians up to a point. Only mechs could defeat other mechs. That was the ironclad rule in these kinds of war.
When Ves finally reached the gap in the walls, the Avatars of Myth and the Sanyal-Ablin mechs already started pulling out. The Chasseurs succeeded in pushing through the gap, though they paid for their aggression with the loss of a couple more mechs.
Ves controlled the floater platform and manually controlled its flight path to climb on top of the walls.
At this point, no one paid attention to a single person, but Ves knew this would change very soon.
With one hand, he activated his Full Stealth module, and with his other hand he drew the Amastendira from his pocket, which unfolded into an elegant-looking laser pistol.
Once the Amastendira came online, he dialed its output to the highest setting possible. When facing mechs, he could not skimp out on power.
"I've only got ten shots. I have to make the most of what I have."
At the highest power setting, the Amastendira would only be able to pump out ten high-powered beams before it forcefully entered a lengthy cooldown cycle.
It was a heavy price, but a worthy one as well. The setting was meant to pose a threat to mechs, however slightly.
"With this pistol's maximum output combined with my aim, it's probably futile for me to try and take out Sir Ravanac's mech."
The Amastendira still possessed enough power to threaten a mech clad in compressed armor, but he'd have to be precise enough to hit a weak point. Melkor might be able to pull that off, but Ves held no such confidence.
After weighing the matter back and forth, Ves decided to strike the tightly-packed formation of Chasseurs. Right now, they attempted to press forth through the gap in the walls. This granted Ves with a unique opportunity. No matter where he aimed at, he was guaranteed to hit an enemy mech. His lackluster marksmanship wouldn't be much of a detriment in this target-rich environment.
No, the only thing he had to be careful of was the inevitable retaliation. From the way their ranged mechs quickly trained their fire on Lucky when he flew out of the first heavy mech, Ves expected instant retaliation after he fired the first shot.
One of his hands briefly brushed on his stomach where his trusty old shield generator rested. If his Stealth Augment couldn't save him, he at least trusted the shield generator to protect him long enough to get away.
Now that he entered stealth, he had to move quickly in order to take advantage of its short duration. He commanded the floater platform to climb up high in order to obtain a commanding view of the battle.
Once he became satisfied with his position, he extended the Amastendira and gripped it carefully in a two-handed grip. He carefully took the time to aim his weapon before he unleashed the first shot.
The sheer amount of energy passing through the bubble of stealth caused it to fluctuate. The powerful white-hot laser beam immediately caused the mechs of the Chasseurs to bleat out an alarm as the beam struck the back of a swordsman mech trying to press forward.
The beam vaporized the relatively thin layer of uncompressed armor and continued to burn through to strike the mech's power reactor. The component instantly failed, causing the rest of the mech to shutdown.
Ves quickly adjusted his aim and raked the singular powerful beam from the Amastendira through the rear armor of a bunch more mechs. Although he failed to take down another mech, he did manage to startle the Chasseurs into a momentary halt.
The handful of frontline mechs that supported the main push quickly turned around and bombarded the air where his floater platform previously hovered. However, their response was just a tad bit too slow.
Ves wasn't an idiot. As soon as the first shot subsided, he stomped on the floater platform, causing it to initiate an emergency descent. As the invisible bubble of stealth restored around his form, he barely managed to evade the furious volley of fire flying over his head.
The Chasseurs didn't know what they were dealing with. Ves probably figured they thought they faced some kind of powerful stealth bot. Just as they figured they took down the stealth bot, Ves opened fire yet again from another position.
This time, the powerful beam passed through the rear armor of another mech, but failed to hit anything critical. However, the power behind the beam was so strong that it wrecked a lot of internals, to the point where the strength of the mech suddenly dropped by at least a half.
For the subsequent shots, Ves kept the floater platform moving as he fired the Amastendira. While this severely affected his accuracy, the sheer damage and chaos that ensued from his action successfully turned around the battle.
Only after he shot his eight laser beam did the Chasseurs manage to hit him directly. His shield generator flared up, protecting his body from the explosive shells that detonated against his form. He yelled in pain from the energies bleeding through the near-impenetrable shield. A wash of heat and force flung him away from the floater platform which the Chasseurs quickly shot into pieces.
Ves tentatively managed to regain control over his altitude with the help of his antigrav clothing. With the loss of the floater platform, he wouldn't be able to fly as fast as before, but at the very least he managed to preserve his life. He quickly checked the charge of his shield generator.
Its charge dropped from eighty percent to a dismal forty-seven percent.
"Damnit, I can't afford to get hit another time!"
Even until now, Ves hadn't been able to recharge his ultra-compact shield generator. This piece of wondrous technology was completely beyond his present capacities. He figured that the only way he could recharge the shield generator was to go back to Leemar, something which he wasn't keen to do before he advanced to Journeyman Mech Designer.
"The shield generator is a lifeline. What will Master Olson think if I come back so soon with a depleted charge?"
Ves could only fire two more full-powered beams, but the damage he caused had reserved the entire trend. He managed to fell five mechs and heavily wound a couple more. The Chasseurs completely lost their imposing manner, while the defenders thought that Ves had deployed some secret trump card.
Now, the only variable that mattered was Sir Ravanac. Would the knight insist on pushing forward, or would be finally decide to pull back?