The face of Ves turned ugly when the Rogue Breaker pressed the New Sentinel with its flurry of attacks. The duel-wielding axeman mech exhibited a distinct superiority over its adversary, and never stepped out of range, giving the New Sentinel very little room to maneuver!
Clang! Clang! Clang!
Each swing of the axe landed with the force of a hammer. The Rogue Breaker seemed to dance on the arena ground, causing the public to become mesmerised by its ferocious movements. Even Ves found the view to be compelling in a way. There was a pattern to Avid Serpent's chaos, but it was too abstruse for Ves to figure out.
The reason why Captain Orfan found it difficult to defend against the assault was because of the random nature of Avid Serpent's attack routine. Sometimes, the force boosters lent more power to the blow, while other times they remained inactive. The irregular activation of the force boosters left the New Sentinel unbalanced as its pilot was unable to adjust its defense.
Captain Orfan gritted her teeth as she endured the assault. She had been afraid of this outcome! Giving the Rogue Breaker a single breather had been enough to turn the tide!
"My mech isn't any weaker than hers!"
The Vandal mech officer was pleased with the New Sentinel's performance up to now. The machine may have been somewhat weird, but it was mostly able to keep up with her movements.
However, it still missed a pace compared to her service mech! That difference was subtle in some aspects, but huge in other aspects. These limitations constantly frustrated the captain and prevented her from performing her desired moves.
The duel between the two mechs had entered a superheated moment. The entire audience stopped speaking as they concentrated on the current phase. Nobody wanted to miss the moment where something changed. This might be the last seconds before the New Sentinel succumbed!
Ves bit his lip. He knew the New Sentinel the best. Captain Orfan had done her utmost and squeezed out every bit of performance it could unleash.
The spearman mech accumulated more battle damage as time went on. The New Sentinel currently bore two major wounds. The first one was the chest wound where Avid Serpent's axe had dug into its chest armor. The second one was the leg which suffered major damage from the Rogue Breaker's kick.
The other mech wasn't in a good condition either. One of its arms suffered a cut, while a couple of other attacks spread the mech with wounds. However, the most significantly damaged portion of the Rogue Breaker was its waist area.
When the New Sentinel knocked down the Rogue Breaker and climbed on top of the prone mech, Captain Orfan's mech had pressed down with its entire weight. The Rogue Breaker hadn't been able to bear this weight, thus its waist became deformed!
Somehow, this hadn't impacted the performance of its engine, but the same couldn't be said for its leg joints. The Rogue Breaker had to move its legs forcefully in order to keep up its offensive.
"The honor of the Flagrant Vandals is at stake! I can't falter like this!"
She had proudly stood up and answered Avid Serpent's challenge three days ago. This was because she felt boundless confidence in her own ability to overcome Avid Serpent. The Vesian hadn't shown off any exceptional ability back then.
It turned out that Avid Serpent fooled them all!
Even though the Vesian piloted a much-improved mech, that wasn't of much use if her skills couldn't keep up. The problem was that Avid Serpent's performance exceeded everyone's expectations.
This meant that Avid Serpent had definitely held back at least twenty to thirty percent of her strength when she dueled Broken Claw!
This additional boost in skill was the difference between an average advanced pilot and a peak advanced pilot. It separated the rank-and-file from the officer-level mech pilots in the military.
Captain Orfan bet with at least eighty percent certainty that Avid Serpent used to be a mech captain as well! Her opponent's courage and judgement stood out from regular mech pilots like a crane among chickens. It reminded her of the time she clashed against the recently-advanced Venerable Foster!
The suffocating pressure emanated by Avid Serpent threatened to engulf Captain Orfan. "Really sneaky of you, Avid Serpent! You've hidden yourself well!"
"It's not my fault you imbecile Vandals fell for my ruse." Avid Serpent taunted back as her mech kept unleashing more and more attacks without any signs of depleting its energy reserves. "How else would I be able to goad you dumb brutes into stepping onto the arena field?"
"Do you even care about your own honor? Hiding your identity like a rat and relying on subterfuge to get ahead of us, do you feel proud of yourself?"
"My pride is nothing you should concern yourself about! I hope the Vandals have prepared your coffin, because your broken corpse is about to rest in it! Sleep well and know that your defeat will be the stepping stone to my redemption!"
The New Sentinel's spear became more ragged as it had to block more axe attacks. Although the material held up against the strikes for now, it wouldn't be able to hold out for much longer, especially when her opponent didn't have any scruples about conserving the energy of her mech.
"I can only choose to suffer!"
Captain Orfan let go of her desire to defend. Instead, she stridently controlled the New Sentinel to flip its spear in an offensive stance. The mech ignored the incoming axe attacks and instead thrust out with its spear in a desperate jab!
The twin axe strikes landed upon the unguarded New Sentinel without any hindrance. One axe bit deep into the side of the New Sentinel, while the other one heavily damaged one of the spearman mech's shoulders.
Its performance had definitely suffered a significant impact this time as its internals received significant damage! However, because the axes had dug into her mech, the Rogue Breaker had momentarily exposed itself to Captain Orfan's counterattack.
The spear stab almost went straight through the abdomen of the Rogue Breaker. However, the abundant layers of armor ultimately prevented the spear from penetrating into the internals.
The New Sentinel's attack lacked sufficient force! Its sudden attack came out of nowhere, and while this had caught Avid Serpent off-guard, the New Sentinel hadn't been able to put much weight behind the thrust.
Still, even if the spear stab hadn't managed to pierce the abdomen, the kinetic energy behind the blow wasn't easy to shrug off either! The shock incurred by the internal components underneath the abdomen was sufficient to hitch up the Rogue Breaker for a single instant.
This was enough for the heavily-damaged New Sentinel to disengage. Bearing new scars on its shoulder and its sides, it practically lost most of its functionality of the arm attached to the damaged shoulder. For all intents and purposes, the New Sentinel could only choose to fight on with a single arm.
"Kill the Vandal! She's a sitting duck now! Finish her off!"
"The Bright Republic always comes back from behind! Go Captain Orfan! You can still do it!"
"Damn, who told me that betting on a mech captain is a sure win?! My marks, my precious marks!"
The crowd erupted in an explosion of emotion at the end of this sequence of attacks. The Rogue Breaker proved to be more valiant than the New Sentinel! Its unending flurry of axe attacks had finally achieved the desired result and crippled the New Sentinel into a one-armed mech!
Though Ves momentarily felt despair, his mood still contained some hope as Captain Orfan had successfully disengaged without giving her opponent the opportunity to finish off her mech. As long as the New Sentinel still kept standing, she still retained the opportunity to win. All Ves could do was hope she had what it took to turn the situation around.
The next minute went by without any suspense. The New Sentinel continually had to give up ground as the Rogue Breaker advanced again and again. Its twin axes became huge threats to the New Sentinel because it couldn't block the attack with only a single working arm.
Both its offensive and defensive ability had been halved!
Despite her overwhelming advantage, Avid Serpent sought to finish off her opponent as quickly as possible. She held nothing back and activated her force boosters again and again with much greater frequency.
The longer the match went on, the greater the chance of an accident!
Perhaps her opponent wasn't clear about the Rogue Breaker's situation, but her axeman mech expended over two-thirds of its energy reserves. The imposing level of performance granted by the force boosters demanded a heavy price that would soon come to roost if Avid Serpent wasn't able to trustle up her opponent.
"This will be easy." She smirked as she saw how flurried the spearman mech had become. "What can you do with a single arm?"
Again and again the axes landed glancing blows against the faltering New Sentinel. Captain Orfan tried to evade the attacks at all costs, but the damage incurred by her mech worked against her. Her mech was wounded and bleeding and her opponent did not have a single merciful bone in her body!
Under this enormous amount of pressure, Captain Orfan tried to stall her opponent in any way she could think of. The main reason she fell behind was because her mech's upper body suffered a substantial amount of damage.
Losing the functionality of an entire arm ended all of her hopes of winning through superior spearplay!
The captain wracked her brain for a way to turn the situation around. She refused to accept her defeat, not when more than two million people watched her disgraceful performance!
"Think! What can I still do?!"
She suddenly thought back of the Rogue Breaker's abrupt kick. If the New Sentinel's upper body was no good, what about the lower body?
Though one of the legs suffered some damage, it wasn't to the point of crippling it entirely. Captain Orfan's face adopted a resolved expression. With her back against the wall, she decided to lash out one more time with the most desperate move she could think of!
The New Sentinel dropped to the ground at her command! The two axes that whizzed in its direction only met empty air as Avid Serpent did not anticipate such a move! Still, her reaction speed was great, as the Rogue Breaker immediately sought to step onto the fallen mech and crush it with the weight of its entire frame.
"Not today, you snake!"
While the Rogue Breaker directed one of its feet forward, the legs of the New Sentinel snapped forward in a scissor that clamped down onto the stretched leg of its opponent.
The upgraded musculature of the New Sentinel showed off their power. It pulled the Rogue Breaker into a fall, straight into the spear held ready and waiting!
However, the Rogue Breaker chopped down with its twin axes as it fell, both of them aimed straight at the torso of the mech on the ground!
A huge collision occurred that boomed throughout the entire arena! The Rogue Breaker had fallen on top of the New Sentinel with both of their mechs unleashing their final attacks!
Some audience members screamed. Others winced. Most of them leaned closer in order to see which mech had survived the final clash.
As the dust cleared away, the audience gasped as they beheld the damage. The New Sentinel's spear had ran straight through the middle of the Rogue Breaker! Meanwhile, the axeman mech had embedded both of its axes deep through the wounded torso of the other mech.
Both mechs landed their strikes around the area where the cockpit was situated at!
"Is it... a draw?!"
"That can't be! Maybe someone missed!"
A mutual kill would be a devastating outcome to the duel. Though it excited some of the rumor mongers, most people who put money behind one of the mech pilots hoped dearly that one of them made it through.
After a few seconds of suspense, one of the mech exhibited movement. Then the other mech moved as well.
"Both of them survived!"
Yet... what happened now? Both mechs didn't seem to be in a shape to continue the fight. The Rogue Breaker was practically impaled, while the spearman mech was squashed underneath the other mech.