Soon, enough time passed for the Inheritors to enter into engagement range to the two Vesian combat carriers.
Ves kept an eye on the telemetry of a sample of Inheritors throughout the ordeal. He watched carefully for anomalies and other dangerous signs.
Several times, he detected latent dangers such as an excessive buildup of heat in one section or a weakening of the power draw in another section.
He was quite good at detecting these kinds of dangers. Each time he spotted something worrisome, he came up with a solution and sent the entire package to the mech pilot.
Naturally, every mech pilot that read the message attached to the setting tweaks couldn't understand a thing of what Ves proposed. All of the jargon and technical numbers looked like a maze to these brutes.
What, did you think mech pilots studied advanced calculus or engineering in the academies?
None of the pilots understood his tweaks, but since they came from the head designer, they all accepted them without too much consideration. After all, the head designer was the most knowledgeable mech specialist among them. Their belief in his capabilities was naively high.
These on-the-fly adjustments compensated for the quick and dirty last-minute modifications made to the Inheritors.
Throughout the time the task force waded through the minefield, Ves ordered the mech designers to supervise a frantic modification of the Inheritor mechs in order to squeeze more speed out of their skinny frames.
The suddenness of the Vesian ambush and the shortage of time precluded any major overhauls.
"If only we had a week's worth of warning." He sighed in the command center of the Shield of Hispania. "With that much time, our mech designers and mech technicians could have bolstered the internals of those Inheritors to withstand the overload."
Iris smiled ruefully at him next to his seat. "You can't predict anything in war. Events never progress the way we want to, because Lady Luck and our opponents are playing the same game as us. Be thankful that we are only facing two mech companies. This is far from our worst-case scenario."
The worst-case scenario would be getting cornered by an entire Mech Legion. There could be no escape if the famous Lady Amalia managed to throw all the mechs at her disposal at them. Even the arrival of two additional mech regiment cut down their chances of escape by ninety percent.
The Flagrant Vandals needed to mop up the two companies in record time in order to avoid more complications.
Ves was relieved to see that the overloaded Inheritors held themselves together so far. In order to speed them up even further, he enacted some modifications that didn't take much time to implement.
The mech technicians worked around the clock to complete these modifications. They deployed with only half of their energy cells, which saved them a fair amount of mass at the cost of halving their uptime. They also stripped various other components that wouldn't be needed in the coming battle.
Considering that they needed to finish this battle quickly, Major Verle approved of the changes. Fighting a lengthy engagement was no different from getting annihilated, so they needed to pull all the stops.
All of that sacrifice served their purpose. The Inheritors inexorably caught up to the Pinpricks and Brain Scramblers. Both of the latter mechs primarily relied on ranged weaponry, so the Vesians attacked first.
As their model name suggested, the Pinpricks didn't deal much damage. Their submachine guns fired light caliber ballistic shells at a rapid rate of fire. Nevertheless, they carried a fairly high amount of ammunition, so they could keep up their harassment for a fairly lengthy time.
Compared to laser weapons of the same power and capacity, ballistic weapons had the edge in lethality. The Pinpricks weren't meant to last forever in a battle of attrition. Their designers only opted for ballistic submachine guns because a laser weapon version simply possessed too little threat.
One of the downsides of the submachine gun was that it wasn't very accurate at long ranges. The Pinpricks needed to wait until the Inheritors came into medium range before they had a chance of hitting them. Even then, the inherent inaccuracy of the weapons and their awkward postures due to the chase didn't allow them to hit the Inheritors very often.
Still, even if they got hit a couple of times, the Inheritor mechs couldn't handle too much damage. They were light mechs after all, and many people likened their armor to fabric rather than plates of alloy.
If not for the extremely light payloads of the submachine gun shells, the Inheritors would have been forced to turn away after suffering a couple of hits at the same section.
As for now, they could probably endure half a magazine, but no more. The Inheritor mechs didn't allow their opponents the luxury to aim at the same spots. They dodged and weaved even as they continued to close the distance.
The only mechs they needed to be wary of was the Brain Scrambler. As the spaceborn frontline mechs of the Calico Dancer Bats, the Brain Scrambler served as their medium to long-ranged fire support.
Frontline mechs stripped everything that wasn't essential to a mech to minimize their production cost and complexity of piloting them. The Brain Scrambler resembled a spacecraft more than a mech as it resembled an armed shuttle with gun barrels for arms more than some humanoid or bestial creation.
In truth, calling it a mech at all would be stretching it, as it completely lacked a pair of legs and a head. Everything except its weapon was embedded into their center body.
The only reason why people called such spaceborn crafts a mech rather than a fighter was because it needed a mech pilot to interface with the machine. Of course, due to lacking all of those complicated limbs, even the most untalented pilots could make a contribution with these simple mechs.
Replacing their humanoid arms with rotating gun barrels might have reduced their flexibility to a low point, but it gave them a considerable amount of firepower.
The worst thing about the Brain Scramblers was that they fired higher caliber high-explosive shells. Though they couldn't carry a lot of ammunition for that reason, their threat level was much higher despite being much less valuable than the Pinpricks.
"Boss, why are they called the Brain Scramblers?" Iris asked.
"The Brain Scramblers are mostly employed in large numbers and in pitched battles on the frontlines. Their purpose isn't necessarily to kill their targets. Instead, they're meant to disrupt heavily armored mechs by rattling them with constant explosions."
"Is that why they run out of shells so fast?"
"Yeah. Their shells are heavier than what light mechs ought to fire, so the trade off is fairly serious. They won't be able to sustain this bombardment for very long."
A dozen Inheritors already fell through focused fire. The Brain Scramblers didn't scatter their fire over hundreds of targets and instead concentrated their fire on a handful of unlucky Inheritors. Dozens of miniature cannon shells bombarded a small box around their position.
The Brain Scrambler's advanced targeting systems did most of the targeting for the mech pilots. They linked up with each other and consistently targeted a small area around an Inheritor, which insured it would get hit no matter where it tried to dodge.
Through this tactic, they steadily reduced the Inheritors arrayed against them, though their ammunition stores also dwindled quickly. The Vandals suffered badly from this round of fire as the Inheritors didn't even bring their backup pistols to retaliate. The extra weight, however miniscule, would detrimentally affect their speed.
The only mitigating factor about the unilateral exchange of fire was that not a lot of pilots actually died. Though the Brain Scramblers possessed a fair amount of firepower, they were light mechs in the end, so their shells weren't immediately lethal to the Inheritors upon impact. Many Inheritors simply dropped out of the chase as their core components malfunctions. Other mechs ejected their cockpits in time as their mechs started to show signs of breaking up.
The fallen mechs and ejected cockpits would be picked up later on by the task force as they trailed the chase.
Sometime later, the Brain Scramblers expended most of their reserves. They started to reduce their firing rate by a drastic amount. The Calico Dancer Bats wanted them to remain relevant, so they started to stretch out whatever ammunition they had left.
The cost to the Vandals was fairly grievous. Over fifty Inheritors either turned to scrap or sustained too much damage to continue the chase. Ves practically bled from his heart when he calculated the cost of restoring and replacing them in his head.
Even if the Inheritor mechs was one of their cheapest mech models, the nominal cost to replenish those mechs could easily reach a billion credits, and that only applied to normal market conditions.
In their current condition where they needed to scavenge for resources or get ripped off by trading them at vastly inflated prices, the effective cost was several times higher!
"Waging war is like throwing money into a gluttonous black hole! There's hardly any profit to be made!"
This was good news for mech manufacturers that supplied the mechs to the military. More fighting meant more mechs got wrecked. More losses meant a higher demand for replacement. Although the LMC wasn't worthy enough to partner with any mech regiment, even the private sector would sustain heavily losses during the war.
If they managed to survive these turbulent times, Ves figured that his company would be able to make a killing in sales.
With roughly a hundred-and-fifty Inheritors remaining in the vanguard wave, they finally came close enough to threaten the Dancer Bat mechs. Every aggrieved Vandal mech pilot must be grinning right now as their mechs brandished their twin knives.
Major Verle issued a command. "Double Chevron Assault!"
The Inheritors immediately formed into double squad-sized chevrons that were two files deep. There was a fair amount of distance between the forward chevron and the rear chevron. For what purpose, Ves didn't know.
In any case, this tactic appeared to be more than a simple charge. As soon as every Inheritor took their places, they collectively raised their overload from twenty percent to thirty percent!
Ves almost stood up when that happened! The internal damage sustained by those light mechs was at least twice as much now that they endured an additional ten percent strain!
Nobody told him that the Vandals would do something like this! If Ves knew what they intended to do, he would have been firmer in his warnings!
Although an additional ten percent overload didn't sound like much, it supercharged the Inheritors. With the extra bump in speed and power, the chevron formations rapidly surged towards the Pinpricks that had been firing their submachine guns at the Vandals in a leisurely fashion.
The sudden acceleration came as a shock to the Calico Dancer Bats, but true to their rich tradition, they didn't panic. It took only a second for their commanding officers to reassert command.
Towards the incoming chevrons, the Calico Dancer Bats didn't choose to take them head-on. After all, the Brain Scramblers possessed no melee capability at all while the Pinpricks only treated their knives as a secondary weapon.
Their response appeared soon enough. The two companies split up into two. One angled upwards and the other angled downwards. They didn't separate too far, only enough before the chance of friendly fire became too great.
"What is this formation?" Ves asked. "It kind of looks like..."
"A hamburger." Iris finished for him. Though it looked comical, neither of them were in the mood to laugh. "It's the famous Hamburger Chaotic Bat Formation. It's a variant of their signature Chaotic Bat Formation, the one where they circle around their targets while pelting them with their SMGs. The hamburger variant is more suitable against larger formations."
True to form, the chevrons started to scatter in various directions as the hamburger buns that made up the Dancer Bat mechs tried to turn them into their meat patty.
Both sides pretty much lost their cohesion. The Double Chevron Assault never came into play, but the Dancer Bats didn't manage to sandwich the Vandals either.
The battle quickly devolved into a chaotic mass dogfight.
Ves initially thought that the Inheritor mechs should have the advantage in such a confusing melee, but Iris quickly disabused his notion.
"The Calico Dancer Bats are sometimes known as the Chaotic Dancer Bats. Don't think that they're at a disadvantage right now. The battle has just begun!"