As soon as the signal blared, Avid Serpent's axeman mech sprinted towards Broken Claw's tiger mech. The sand pit that made up the underground arena's soil provided some challenges to the running motions of both mechs. This slowed down the speed of any mechs that ran across the arena.
Avid Serpent appeared to be caught off-guard of her mech's unstable footing. She was forced to pull back on the throttle, giving her opponent a little more time to respond.
Broken Claw's only intact kinetic weapon mount shot out a solid slug that accurately impacted Avid Serpent's mech! Her axemen mech dodged at the last moment, causing the slug to hit its sides rather than its abdomen. The hard slug managed to dig a shallow groove in the sides of the mech. It went through several layers of armor plating!
"Give it up, girlie!" A Reinaldan-accented voice boomed from the tiger mech as it stepped back to put more distance between them. The voice went through a warbler that prevented the crowd from matching a name to the voice. "I've fought over fifty battles and survived! There's nothing you can do that can baffle me! I suggest you bow down before you damage your precious mech!"
The axeman mech didn't take it lying down and began to accelerate abruptly. Though its footing was a little sketchy, Avid Serpent appeared to be adjusting quickly.
One hand of her mech raised its axe to the air, as if it was ready to split the heavens and earth. While most of the crowd followed the rise of the axe, Avid Serpent's mech abruptly pulled out a holdout pistol from a hidden compartment from behind and shot at the tiger mech!
"Two can play this game!" The warbled voice of Avid Serpent arose from her own mech.
The underground arena deliberately amplified and spread out their dialogue to ensure the entire crowd followed their words.
Though the axeman mech wasn't a hero mech, its humanoid form and articulated arms didn't prevent it from wielding other weapons!
Laser beams scorched the tiger mech. Though the beams didn't possess a lot of power, Avid Serpent cleverly tried to hit the main sensors mounted on the face of the tiger mech. She was attempting to cripple its eyes!
Broken Claw growled in anger. "Now you've pissed me off!"
The tiger mech unleashed another kinetic projectile from its side barrel. Broken Claw's aim was remarkably good! However, Avid Serpent's reaction didn't fall behind, and she pulled her mech aside at the last moment.
This time, the axeman mech suffered a shallower graze.
Throughout its dash, the axeman mech continued to pelt the tiger mech with laser beams.
Though Broken Claw's mech only suffered superficial damage, the laser beams fell dangerously close to its vulnerable sensors. The possibility of letting his mech's eyes be blinded was a huge shame to him. The tiger mech stopped retreated but instead started to advance.
"They're going at it for real this time!"
At some time, Avid Serpent retrieved the pistol and focused instead on her footwork. The axeman mech gained enough proficiency in navigating through the sand that it even started displaying a special dodging technique.
The next kinetic projectile missed entirely!
There was no more time for Broken Claw to unleash another kinetic projectile. The two mechs almost reached each other. When they were just a few seconds from colliding against each other, they each unleashed their separate moves!
Broken Claw opted to make the best use of his mech's momentum, and threw his bestial mech into a leap while immediately putting both claws forward!
Perhaps anticipating her opponent's attack, Avid Serpent chose to make away. Her axeman mech dashed against the sand and pushed it to the left, putting the mech barely out of the trajectory of the tiger mech's immense bulk.
Her mech successfully dodged the first attack!
The axemen mech not only dodged the tiger mech's leap, it also chopped down with its axe, seeking to breach the spine of the tiger mech as it whooshed past its target!
The air seemed to woosh around the scarred but sturdy axe. Just before the blade of the axe managed to connect to the tiger mech, the latter mech's rear paws abruptly lashed out to the side with a handful of claws drawn out!
Broken Claw not only used the chest of the axeman mech as a springboard, he also left some awful claw marks behind!
The crowd went wild at that moment! Supporters of Avid Serpent groaned as her mech stumbled backwards from the attack.
"Come on, Avid Serpent! Show the old geezer what girls can do!"
"You almost got him! You can do better next time!"
Meanwhile, those who put their chips on Broken Claw boosted him on. "Claw her to death! Show these foreigners how Reinaldans fight!"
"Don't let Reinald down!"
The two mechs quickly readjusted and clashed again. This time, the tiger mech barely fended off the heavy axe chop from Avid Serpent. Though the axeman mech was a little lighter, its axe strikes shouldn't be belittled. A dozen more strikes like that would certainly break the tiger mech's claws!
"Worthy of a shield breaker! That axe chop is so powerful!"
"Humanoid mechs are better than animal mechs! Only the human form allows you to utilize all kinds of techniques!"
The difference between humanoid mechs and bestial mechs came to the fore. Humans knew humanoid mechs the best, and developed or adapted all kinds of exquisite techniques to best leverage its power.
It could be said that the complexity surrounding humanoid mechs was one of the principal reasons why mech training lasted so many years.
A badly trained pilot would be able to exert only ten to thirty percent of a humanoid mech's strength. Most of its power would likely be wasted by inefficient motions.
On the other hand, a well-trained pilot would easily be able to draw out a hundred percent of the strength of their mech. In addition, the amount of force it could exert could easily reach up to five-hundred percent if it leveraged its weight and momentum behind their attacks!
The battle between Broken Claw and Avid Serpent showcased two opposite approaches to putting more than a hundred percent power behind their attacks.
While humanoid attacks relied on their vertical posture, flexible limbs and sophisticated techniques to drive their attacks, bestial mechs focused on taking advantage of their natural forms. The latter type of mechs might not possess as much variety in their movements and attack motions, but each of its actions were marked with force and speed.
Broken Claw displayed an intimate familiarity with the strengths and limits of a bestial mech. His old tiger mech didn't attempt to fight the axeman mech upfront. Instead, it kept leaping or making flank attacks, preferring sideswipes over all-in attacks. The mech's powerful movements granted by its four paws gave it a strong advantage in mobility.
"Is that the best a Vesian can do?!" Broken Claw taunted. "Deserters deserve to be buried in interstellar space!"
A roar emerged from Avid Serpent as she drove her mech to a more aggressive attack pattern. "You'll regret those words! A merc like you who never put his life on the line for his state will never understand what it's like to fight in the frontlines!"
The people in the stands cheered and whooped at the drama occurring on the fighting field. Everyone loved to put a story to the names. A colorful background increased their interest in the duelists!
"Tigers need to be put back in their cages!"
The axeman mech seemed to tire of the drive-by attacks of the tiger mech. It abruptly leapt forward, disrupting the tiger mech's timing. Both mechs leapt at each other in a haphazard manner, but the difference was that Avid Serpent's mech spun around its frame!
The extra rotation along with excellent control caused Avid Serpent's axe to dig into one of the tiger mech's paws! The axe pierced through the thin layers of armor and practically savaged the limb!
"Down goes a paw!"
The tiger mech hastily pulled back. Though one of its forepaws ceased to be capable of launching any further attacks, the mech's mobility hadn't been affected too much.
If a humanoid mech lost a leg, it immediately turned into an immobile and very vulnerable machine.
If a bestial mech lost one of their limbs, chances were it would still be able to maintain at least seventy percent of its maximum speed.
Broken Claw's experience showed as he easily adjusted his tiger mech's movement to avoid putting on weight on its damaged limb.
Supporters of Broken Claw cried out in shock or anger. A significant part of the crowd consisted of local Reinaldans. Though they didn't put their bets on their kinsmen all the time, they always acted on their biases to an extent. It wouldn't be surprising to find out that over two-thirds of all of the Reinaldans put their money on Broken Claw.
"Come on, Broken Claw! You can still do it! Smash that Vesian mech apart!"
Despite the damage it incurred, the tiger mech did not let up its aggression. In Broken Claw's perspective, to slow down now would likely widen the gap between his damaged mech and Avid Serpent's relatively intact mech. He desperately needed to equalize the state of their mechs.
Avid Serpent fell in the leeway in the next minute. Broken Claw continued to push his tiger mech onwards in a reckless flurry of attacks. Due to the crippling of one of its forepaws, Broken Claw quickly adjusted and launched more attacks from its rear limbs. Though it these kinds of attacks were awkward to pull off, the extra power behind the rear limbs caused Avid Serpent to dread getting hit again. Her axemen mech's chest had lost a lot of integrity from the earlier attack.
"Are you a turtle of an axeman mech?! Show some guts!" Broken Claw yelled out.
"You'll be at the end of your ropes soon enough!" His opponent yelled back. "Come and peel away my shell if you dare!"
It was obvious that Avid Serpent knew what her opponent was thinking about. She switched from offense to defense the moment Broken Claw sought to accomplish a breakthrough. When Avid Serpent put her full mind on defense, the advantages of her humanoid mech came to the fore.
Her medium mech possessed enough leg power and overall mobility to dodge the simple attacks of the tiger mech. Though the latter machine's attacks possessed a lot of power, their inherent simplicity made it easy for Avid Serpent to anticipate the possible attacks. Bestial mechs also didn't lend themselves well to feints, so Broken Claw didn't possess too many means of opening up the axeman mech to a critical attack.
The aggressive brawl turned into a contest of patience and endurance. The crowd sat tight while the two mechs competed on which mech would last the most.
Arenas limited the amount of power a mech would be able to bring on the battlefield. This prevented boring battles of attrition that stretched out for hours at a time.
It seemed that underground arenas craved excitement, because the mechs showed signs of winding down after an intensive battle.
"As expected, the tiger mech is faltering." Ves said. "It's slim form and substantial armor doesn't leave much room inside its body. There's no way it can fit a lot of energy cells inside its frame."
Every mech only brought out a percentage of its maximum energy charge to the arena stage. A mech built for endurance would still be able to last a long time even with only twenty percent charge.
On the other hand, a mech built for peak performance might already start to shut down in ten minutes or less at twenty percent charge.
Both of the mechs on stage happened to fall in between. They didn't feature the best endurance, but they could slog it out over a campaign without requiring constant recharges.
The tiger mech critically faltered in its steps due to a sluggish response to one of its other limbs. A critical misstep occurred due to a lack of power being directed to its engine!
"You're finished!" Avid Serpent exulted and spun her mech into a spin that hit the tiger mech's head and split it apart.
The damage jolted the tiger mech, but Broken Claw wasn't resigned to defeat. "Even if I'm going down, I'm bringing you with me, Vesian!"
The tiger mech jerked forward and went all-in, trying to enveloping the entire frame of its opponents into a deadly hug.
However, contrary to her words, Avid Serpent did not follow up on her last attack. Instead, she delayed, causing the tiger mech to grab empty air. Just as the tiger mech landed on the ground, the axeman mech unleashed a simple chop against its back.
This time, the tiger mech's spine suffered crippling damage!
A second chop followed soon after that dug into the cavity opened up by the previous chop. This time, the power reactor suffered a substantial failure that caused it to stutter.
Avid Serpent was well in her rights to deliver another attack. Her axe raised above the air, and Ves could imagine where it would land. Broken Claw's cockpit was vulnerable.
The axe barely started flowing down when the tiger mech's back abruptly exploded. Broken Claw chose to eject!
"Winner, Avid Serpent!"