The rocks stopped being able to reach the fleeing transport and mechs after passing roughly a kilometer of distance. Simple gravity prevented the rocks from flying any further, though they rolled forward at a considerable distance even when they landed.
Ves immediately recognized that the rocks had deliberately been chiseled into a rounded shape to facilitate the rolling motion.
Even though launching rocks seemed to be an incredibly primitive form of attack, the possible damage they could inflict was no joke! Their transport would have suffered a huge dent if hit!
The main problem with relying on throwing boulders was that they weren't very accurate. While the rocks launched under standard gravity conditions inside the city, once the projectiles left the antigrav field that surrounded the city, they almost literally started dropping like rocks.
That limited their eventual range to a kilometer away at best.
"Did the inhabitants of the city employ a catapult or trebuchet?" Dr. Tillman asked with a puzzled frown.
Nobody knew why the city launched rocks at them instead of firing shells or lasers at the delegation. Still, Captain Byrd did not take the hostile response to heart. The reaction of the city revealed much.
"They're still alive, that's for certain. Their technology level seems to have regressed beyond our what we have anticipated, and we're not certain if they still speak the same language as us. However, if they fear us enough to attack us with their boulder weapons, then we share at least one common language. The language of violence."
"Uhh.. what about the diplomatic approach, ma'am?" Ves asked.
"The time for the soft approach is over. If we continue to approach the city meekly after they launched rocks at us, they'll consider us as pushovers. Right now, we need to give them a good wakeup call in order to drag them to the negotiating table. For that, we'll need to coordinate with the Swordmaidens."
The Swordmaidens had been content to let Captain Byrd take the lead in the initial contact. The transport holding their representative and escorts on foot had remained behind with the rest of the mechs on standby.
As the fast transport approached its Swordmaiden counterpart and rested next to the other vehicle, a Swordmaiden crossed over to the Vandals.
"Hah! Captain Byrd!" The savage-looking Swordmaiden greeted with a mocking grin. "I told you that those who are holed up in their settlements won't be happy to see you. To them, you're monsters or aliens that they haven't seen yet. A city as battered and stagnant as theirs will always lash out violently when visitors pop up out of the blue."
Captain Clarissa appeared to be a formidable Swordmaiden who exhibited several wild traits that made it seem she had spent much of her youth in a tribal settlement. The bones of her exobeast kill adorned her entire armor as proof of her individual prowess. The characteristic greatsword of the Swordmaidens rested comfortably behind her back.
The two captains started to huddle together in a corner to discuss what they derived from the initial contact. Ves tried to eavesdrop as best as possible without straying too close.
From their initial discussion, they agreed that while it may be possible to eventually convince the city of their peaceful intentions, it may take several days or weeks to build up an accord with the rulers of the city.
This was an unacceptable delay as the Flagrant Swordmaidens acutely needed to obtain more information about the possible threats they might encounter in their travels.
After an extensive discussion involving lots of speculation and guesswork, they decided to take the forceful approach in the next attempt. Both the Swordmaidens and the Vandals would be bringing their full mech companies into view. Perhaps the sight of eighty mechs might shock the inhabitants into resorting to other means than launching rocks at anything that came close to the walls.
Eighty mechs stepped forward in unison and marched in ranks as best they could on the slightly uneven terrain. A27's walls loomed closer and closer, though this time their transports crawled well behind the columns of mechs.
Once the mechs had reached a kilometer away from the city walls, they halted and spread out to make it harder for the city to target them all. Various melee mechs stood in front including all of their knights. The ranged mechs all readied their laser rifles in the event their services would be needed.
This time, Captain Byrd adopted a more forceful tone as the fast transport projected her voice towards the city. "INHABITANTS OF THE CITY BEFORE US. WE COME IN FRIENDSHIP AND PEACE. WE SEEK TO TRADE AND EXCHANGE INFORMATION. AT NO POINT DO WE WANT TO GO TO WAR OR ATTEMPT TO TAKE OVER YOUR CITY. HOWEVER, IF YOU CONTINUE TO IGNORE US OR LAUNCH AN ATTACK ON OUR FORCES, WE WON'T HESITATE TO TEACH YOU A LESSON!"
Ten seconds later, A27 sent out their response. They launched a volley of five rocks in the direction of the spread out mechs. None of them fell far enough to pose any direct threat to the mechs, though the rolling boulders forced some of the mechs to move aside in order to avoid a dent.
"ATTACKS ON OUR FORCES WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. IF YOU DO NOT CEASE YOUR ATTACKS IMMEDIATELY, WE WILL RESPOND IN KIND."
A second volley of rocks showed the inhabitants hadn't changed their minds. Captain Byrd continued to exhort the people of A27 to put down their hostilities using various arguments, but none of them really hit home. The city appeared to have stockpiled thousands of boulders from the way they continued to launch them towards the Vandals and Swordmaidens.
At some point, the fast transport hastily crawled to the side when one of the boulders rolled straight at the vehicle.
At that point, Captain Byrd accepted that verbal persuasion was unlikely to work. If the inhabitants got it in their heads that they could throw lethal rocks at the Flagrant Swordmaidens without suffering any retaliation, all their subsequent attempts at contact would be coming from a position of weakness.
"It's time to teach these yokels that we aren't as toothless as they think. Ranged mechs, open fire at your preselected targets! Begin at twenty-five percent strength!"
Half of their mechs started firing laser beams at only a quarter strength. Each of those laser beams lanced out towards the center of the walls. While the simultaneous discharge looked extremely impressive, the lasers hadn't actually inflicted a lot of surface damage to the thick and solid walls.
Not only did the laser beams possess only a fourth of their regular potency, the rifleman mechs all aimed at different portions of the wall. The initial salvo of laser beams was meant to wake the inhabitants up and to give them a good scare.
Half a minute went past before the city launched another volley of five rounded boulders in the direction of the Vandals and the Swordmaidens.
Ves was starting to think that these insular descendants needed a good smacking until they came to sense.
The mechs repeated their half-hearted laser discharges, which besides looking pretty really didn't do much more than to vaporize some of the surface layers while heating up the alloy wall at certain sections.
"Okay, it's time to stop handling them with kid gloves. Switch to the follow-up plan! Set power to a hundred percent, and focus your fire on the wall section next to the gates!"
The wall wasn't entirely uniform. Gates had been built in each cardinal direction, and they were large and tall enough to fit two mechs walking abreast.
Damaging the gates directly disincentivized the defenders from opening them up, while damaging a distant section of the wall might not alarm them as must. This was why the rifleman targeted the section just next to the western gate.
As the lasers burned brighter and hotter, forty of them instantly carved out a hole in the exact same spot.
A hole rapidly started forming on the thick alloy surface! Ves sat behind one of the consoles integrated in the fast transport and tracked the damage inflicted by the lasers. The intense heat caused the surrounding alloy to glow and blacken while the lasers continued to melt and vaporize anything in their way!Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
In just a couple of seconds, they already dug a couple of meters straight into the thick solid mass!
As the lasers encountered a new layer of alloy consisting out of more resistant material, the defenders started launching their rocks as fast as they could manage. In their evident panic, the launchers fell out of sync, causing some to launch their rocks faster than others.
The transports had already receded well beyond the effective range of the rocks, while the nimble rifleman mechs easily dodged the falling and rolling boulders as they continued to fire their lasers unerringly into the deepening hole their weapon carved out!
Even as the laser weapons started to accumulate a burst of heat, the Vandal and Swordmaiden rifleman mechs continued to persist until they finally bore straight through the other end of the wall!
All of the rifles immediately halted their fire. The visitors wanted to make a point, not to inflict any actual harm on the residents.
Silence emerged on the battlefield as the rocks stopped being launched in the direction of the mechs. Perhaps their thick skulls started to understand that they would continue to be sitting ducks if they kept hiding behind their walls to launch ineffective projectiles against the nimble mechs.
"At least they stopped launching rocks at us. That's good news, right?" Chief Dakkon asked.
"I won't be so sure of that. Whoever they are, I doubt they dropped their evident xenophobic stance at us." Ves replied. In situations like this, he always feared the worst.
"The west gate is opening!"
The thick double gates slowly shifted open at a snail's pace. The incredible weight and size of the gates made it difficult for anything to shift them open. The rifleman mechs could have easily interrupted the agonizingly slow process, but Captain Byrd ordered no such thing.
It was time for these mysterious inhabitants to reveal their faces to the visitors.
Three minutes later, the formerly-closed gates widened up to reveal a broad avenue. Just as Ves analyzed the glimpse they obtained of the interior of the city, a massive creature lumbered into sight.
"That's an exobeast!" Dr. Tillman called! "It's a warm-blooded, quadruped exobeast! I don't see any traces of Earth-based creatures in its appearance. This is an adaptive native exobeast!"
"Look at what's above!" Ves immediately identified a tiny presence on the top of the reptile-looking creature rocky, scaly hide. "There's a human mounted on a saddle above the creature's back!"
Ves, Chief Dakkon and Dr. Tillman rapidly derived the exobeast's properties as the creature slowly lumbered through the gates and parked itself in front of the city gates.
"The exobeast weighs as much as a heavy mech, if not more."
"The creature is an adult or an elder of its species. It's likely an apex species of this planet, as I can hardly imagine that this planet can support anything larger!"
"Strong readings are emanating from the large crystals embedded in the forehead, chest and various parts of its body. These are.. they're some kind of energy reservoirs! No, not only that, but they act as antigrav modules as well!"
Another mounted exobeast joined the first one. This one looked to be of an entirely different creature, though Dr. Tillman identified several similarities.
A third one appeared after the second one. A fourth one appeared after the third.
One by one, the city revealed their offensive might as the giant ridden exobeasts continued to step out of the gates until ten of them lined up in an intimidating row under the evident control of their riders!
At some command, the huge and deadly looking beasts opened up their maws and started to unleash an awful roar towards the Flagrant Swordmaidens!
"The savages are challenging us!"