Ves thought that Captain Orfan lost her mind after melding with her mech. Ves had infused the New Sentinel with the unbridled fury of the heavenly horse.
"Did I go too far?"
Ves constructed the image of the heavenly horse with an eye towards offense. However, too much offense was not a good thing.
Avid Serpent displayed a lot more self-control right now. The axeman mech she piloted cleverly showed off its nimbleness by dancing and dodging out of the way of unrelenting spear flurry aimed in its direction. Its axe rarely deflected the spear stabs.
"Stay still you rat!" Orfan yelled as the New Sentinel's feet thundered forward.
"I've no reason to do that, you mangy dog!"
The Rogue Breaker refrained from showing off its cards. Its force boosters remained dormant, as Avid Serpent hadn't found it necessary to draw upon their strength while on the defensive.
At some point, Captain Orfan ceased her constant aggression. Even she began to feel some strain after keeping the offensive going. The quirks and imperfections of the New Sentinel prevented her from piloting the mech as an extension of her limbs. Compared to her service mech, this frankenstein mech moved like a creaky robot.
The two mechs circled around each other before they went on the attack again. This time, the two mechs refrained from making any elaborate movements.
"They're probing each other." A stranger said next to Ves. "They both acknowledged each other as worthy opponents. Since they can't take down their opponents quickly, they're taking a step back by trying to learn the other's strengths and weaknesses."
The cautious probing and slow-paced movements caused the audience to become annoyed. Many of the audience members booed at Avid Serpent and Captain Orfan for being timid cowards. Where did Captain Orfan's passion go? Why didn't Avid Serpent display her full strength?
Only the more astute mech pilots understood that the battle had only just begun. Both of them were in it for the long haul.
"Has anyone found out the face behind Avid Serpent's mask? I always thought her identity has issues."
"Hell, better men have tried. It's like she's a ghost in the Harkensen System. Before she showed up here, she hadn't made a splash at all. Not a single Vesian knows who she is! For all I know, Avid Serpent might not even come from the Vesia Kingdom."
"Why would anyone lie about her backing?"
"I don't know. Maybe she wanted to put herself in the spotlight and took advantage of the war between the two states."
Ves listened to the rumors around him but did not even come close to figuring out the true identity of Avid Serpent.
Not that it mattered too much in this case.
Seeing Avid Serpent move her mech even nimbler than the New Sentinel, Ves felt a little jealous at Mr. Creta's accomplishments. The first time Ves saw the Rogue Breaker in battle, the mech exhibited a good amount of agility.
Under the care of an apprentice of Master Klaisewist, the Rogue Breaker experienced a transformation of its own that wasn't any worse to what Ves had done to the New Sentinel.
Ves glanced around the nearby seats and spotted Mr. Creta calmly observing the fighting happening beyond the energy screen.
The Vesian mech designer abruptly turned towards Ves, and their gazes collided with each other. After a few seconds of staring at each other, Creta politely smiled at Ves and tipped his finger at him as if in salute before turning his attention back to the duel.
"What a tough adversary." Ves muttered. The man came from an earlier generation and possessed a definite advantage in age and experience. "It's like facing someone who's almost a Journeyman."
From the smooth performance of the Rogue Breaker, Ves could already tell that the mech experienced a large-scale strengthening. The mech was much more robust than before and its defensive strength had received a minor improvement as well. Overall, every performance characteristic had been strengthened without exception. None of its aspects became weaker.
This balanced strengthening contrasted sharply with what Ves had done to the New Sentinel. He had butchered the old mech and cobbled together an entirely new frankenstein mech. This boosted several of its performance characteristics to a whole new level, but the sloppy and hasty work had also impacted its integrity and other performance characteristics.
This led to two contrasting sights. One mech fought smoothly while the other fought with power.
"Enough of this dance. Take my Dervish of the Axe God!"
The axeman mech suddenly ceased to probe the spearman mech and started to commit to the battle. Some of its force boosters activated which abruptly put the mech into a spin! With its axe stretched out, the mech became a force of nature which could hack anything apart which strayed into its vicinity!
Despite spinning around like a figure skater, Avid Serpent's mech somehow approached the New Sentinel with an alarming amount of speed. The Rogue Breaker's Dervish of the Axe God was unavoidable!
Inside her cockpit, Captain Orfan began to sweat at the sight. "You don't do things by half-measures, do you?"
The New Sentinel couldn't escape this calamity. It was too near to its opponent! By the time it turned around and ran, the spinning axe would have already hacked against its frame!
It could only meet the forceful spin head-on!
Captain Orfan did not dare to put all of her trust into the New Sentinel's spear. Against the momentum driving the axe into a spin, if the New Sentinel dared to parry it with the shaft, it was liable to snap!
This was also why she skipped the option of carrying a shield. Axemen mechs were known as shield breakers, and the Rogue Breaker had definitely been designed to tear them apart.
Ordinarily, Orfan knew she had to rely on her mech mobility to negate the attacks of an axeman mech. However powerful they were, they still needed to connect to be effective!
If not for Mr. Crete's force boosters and other enhancements, Captain Orfan could have dodged throughout the entire match.
After waiting for the spinning axeman mech to come close, Orfan didn't lose mind. Though the sight looked dreadful to the audience, the mech captain ignoring the spinning axe blade and jabbed the New Sentinel's spear downwards.
"My mech's reach is greater than yours, and no matter how fancy you spin your mech, it can't do anything with the footing to keep it up!"
The tip of the spear failed to strike the nimble legs that kept the Rogue Breaker into a spin. However, the threat successfully diverted the unstoppable momentum of the dervish. After the New Sentinel struck again, it managed to trip one of the moving limbs which destabilized the axeman mech.
Yet Avid Serpent hadn't spun her mech in vain. Just before Captain Orfan tripped up her mech, she commanded the Rogue Breaker to let go of its axe!
The hefty weapon spun into the air before striking the New Sentinel square into its chest!
Many shards of armor plating erupted from the chest of the spearman mech. The flying axe had carved through almost every layer of armor plating! If Captain Orfan hadn't adjusted her mech at the last moment, the axe might have cut off the arm of her mech!
Right now, she couldn't afford her mech to lose an entire limb! Therefore, she took a gamble that the New Sentinel could take the axe hit without damaging the internals.
Her gamble paid off!
The free hand of the New Sentinel went up to grip the axe embedded into the chest, but Avid Serpent activated a mental command on her mech that recalled the axe back to its hand!
"Look! The axe is connected to the weapon arm of Avid Serpent's mech! It can reel the weapon back in after it has thrown it out!"
This wasn't an unusual sight with higher-end axeman mechs, but Ves was pretty certain the original Rogue Breaker didn't incorporate such a feature. For Mr. Creta to add this feature to a mech in three days was very impressive because such systems easily broke!
"Avid Serpent isn't retracting the axe completely! What is she doing?"
The Rogue Breaker kept the axe hanging onto its arm. Instead, it started to swing its weapon arm with the weapon still attached to the alloy cable.
The subsequent attack arrived at the New Sentinel a lot faster than Orfan anticipated. Her mech hastily put up its guard, allowing it to deflect the cable-bound axe with great difficulty.
Orfan tried to unleash a counterattack, but Avid Serpent merely sent out the axe yet again!
Right now, the spearman mech's reach advantage had been reversed. The New Sentinel could no longer bully the Rogue Breaker by taking advantage of its reach. The proficient way in which Avid Serpent threw and retrieved its axe had baffled over half the crowd.
"What can a skinny cable do? I'll hack it apart!" Captain Orfan yelled.
The New Sentinel dashed forward and dodged the spinning axe sent into its direction. Immediately after, it swung its arm in an attempt to cut the cable with its spear.
Unfortunately, the collision showed that the cable remained steadfast throughout any attempts at breaking it apart. The fearfulness of Avid Serpent's mech increased. What was more depressing to Captain Orfan was that she couldn't get any close!
"Hahaha!" She laughed after her mech fended off the latest flying axe. "I'm usually the one who bullies others with my reach. If you think an old dog like me can't think of another trick, then don't blame me for losing your life!"
When Avid Serpent threw out another axe, the New Sentinel jabbed its spear yet again. This time, it didn't bother with trying to cut the resilient alloy cable. Instead, it pushed the shaft of its spear against the strength and forced it to coil around it. It looked as if someone winded up a piece of loose cable!
With a mighty heave, the New Sentinel dragged the Rogue Breaker closer and unleashed a kick at the axeman mech that battered the mech's internals a bit. However, somehow the cable gained a life of its own. The axe quickly shook off the entanglement with the spear and returned to the waiting palm of the Rogue Breaker as the kick it received had pushed it back.
"You're not the only one here who can pull off a special move."
She declined to call out the name of the move, but that didn't detract from the New Sentinel's imposing manner. The spearman mech gripped its spear with both hands and stepped forth like the weight of the galaxy rested on its shoulder. Once it came into fighting range, the mech started spinning its spear!
Different from the Rogue Breaker's Dervish of the Axe God, Captain Orfan didn't intend to spin around her entire mech. Instead, the footing of the New Sentinel seemed like it was connected to a mountain! Knocking it off balance wouldn't be easy!
"Come! Taste bewilderment!"
As the New Sentinel marched closer, it abruptly turned its spin into a slash that scratched one of the arms of the Rogue Breaker. Avid Serpent hadn't anticipated the attack!
Just after completing the slash, the New Sentinel resumed with spinning the spear. Seconds later, it repeated the slash, this time succeeding in digging through the cockpit of the Rogue Breaker. This affected some of its sensors, causing Avid Serpent no small amount of difficulties.
"What's this wheel of spears?!"
"That's a party trick. It's nothing complicated. Spearman mech pilots like to practice it because it improves our fine control over our mechs."
"If you want to copy Captain Orfan's moves at home, I suggest you don't do it in a populated area. Once you make a mistake, the spear will go flying and is liable to hit an innocent bystander!"
Right now, Captain Orfan had caught her opponent off-guard by using this parlor trick to obscure her attacks!