The biggest question in everyone's mind was whether the survivors of the Starlight Megalodon artificially cultivated these exobeasts. It seemed too preposterous to the Vandals and the Swordmaidens that the descendants managed to tame these powerful and savage exobeasts by relying on their charm.
Everyone paid a lot of attention to their local exobiologist Dr. Tillman, who endured a lot of pressure trying to figure out as much as possible from their appearances.
None of them expected the locals to use mounted exobeasts as war machines!
"Taming and mounting exobeasts is more common throughout the galaxy than you think." She remarked. "Those action dramas where exobeast riders are battling against each other somewhat reflect the truth. When people get stranded on a planet with giant exobeasts, their first thought is to defend against their aggression. Their second thought is to harness their power for their own uses. If they succeed, they have secured what is in all purposes a warbeast that can contend against mechs."
"So.. that makes it unlikely that the city fields any mechs?" Chief Dakkon asked.
"It isn't easy to keep an exobeast docile. Look at how big those creatures are. None of them appear to be herbivores either. These are apex predators who have grown close to the theoretical size limitations on unmodified organisms. I cannot tell whether the genes of the exobeasts in front of us are tampered with, but so far I have not detected any traces of human-directed optimizations."
That did not rule out that these reptilian-like exobeasts received some tune-ups. Those who tampered with their species had been very conservative in their intervention if someone did interfere in their evolution.
"Isn't this planet terraformed by the crew of the Starlight Megalodon?" Ves asked. "If that is true, then shouldn't these beasts be croaking or something?"
"It may be that the terraforming is less extensive than we initially expected. At the very least, the changes in the ecosystem and the change in air mixture may in fact have benefited these beasts more than others. Perhaps they are one of the few surviving apex predators that have survived the transition."
Too many explanations existed for them to make a solid conclusion. What mattered to the Vandals and the Swordmaidens was that A27 fielded ten formidable exobeasts, each of which massed more than a heavy mech!
While that did not necessarily mean they possessed the combat prowess of a heavy mech, their deadly appearances did not suggest that they grew to such a size because they enjoyed the heavy gravity.
On Aeon Corona VII, growing larger should have been a bad evolutionary path for most species! Those who evolved into larger creatures likely relied on something special to negate the drawbacks of enduring such a heavy gravity, and all of the clues so far pointed to the strange yellow crystalline growths embedded in their foreheads, limbs and other parts of their body!
Some only featured a couple of crystals while other creatures boasted more than a dozen of them! The center-most exobeast and the largest among them carried seventeen lustrous crystals.
"The big guy in the center must be the top dog of this bunch. It's the biggest creature by far and looks like it is keeping the other beasts in line."
"Those crystals serve as both energy reservoirs and antigrav modules." Chief Dakkon confirmed as he poured over the sensor readings directed at the exobeasts. "The crystals are holding a strange form of energy. I can't readily identify it. The antigravity effects they exert is almost identical to the field affected by an obsolete antigrav module. Those crystals are almost certainly designed by humans!"
"Are those crystals grown by the exobeasts or have humans embedded them into their flesh?"
"Implanted." Dr. Tillman stated after a few seconds. "I can see the remnants of crude surgery marks in the scales and hides surrounding the crystals. They've likely been implanted when these exobeasts were young or adolescent. However, I'm not sure how the crystals have grown to such a size. The readings suggests that the crystals have grown in tandem with the exobeasts."
This was the first definite clue that humans interfered with the growth of these exobeasts. For what purpose, though?
"The crystal closest to the rider is constantly emanating a small but concentrated field. It is shielding the riders from the brunt of the planet's gravity."
Well, that was one reason why humans went through the trouble embedding the crystals into the flesh of the exobeasts. Where did those crystals come from, and how had they been synthesized?
Even if Ves experimented with crystals before during his development of his Crystal Lord design, that did not mean he knew what was going on here. Each crystal possessed unique properties in the same way any metal different from each other.
Iron, lead, gold or titanium all fell under the category of metals, but they exhibited dramatically different attributes and applications.
While the experts conferred with each other and shared their observations, Captain Byrd conferred with Captain Clarissa of the Swordmaidens over short-ranged comms.
Both of them recognized that the exobeast riders issued a challenge against the Flagrant Swordmaidens!
Even though culture and language may have diverted over a span of thousands of years, some patterns of behavior remained constant throughout time. Not just humans, but many sentient alien species valued the concepts of duels.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
Duels were basically the most primitive and direct way to establish superiority over others without resorting to a full-scale conflict. The leader or a champion put their life or honor on the line in a duel that would have far-reaching effects in the relations between the two parties.
The fact that the exobeast riders evidently demanded a duel showed even if the inhabitants had been largely uncommunicative towards the visitors, both sides still shared at least one common language!
The language of the biggest fist!
The contention between Captain Byrd and Captain Clarissa grew when they tried to decide how to respond.
Captain Byrd wanted to impress a message of absolute dominance by pitting all eighty of theour mechs against the ten formidable exobeasts. Though their combat prowess likely didn't match up to a heavy mechs, besting the natives through overwhelming numbers and firepower would hit home the disparity in power.
Captain Clarissa disagreed, though. Her voice came out loud and clear through the comm channel.
"We know how isolated settlers think and act. The riders who stepped out of the city gates are their leaders and champions. While they are uncertain of our intentions, the fact that they haven't stormed towards us means that there is still a way to gain their respect without walking over their pride. They demand a fair duel, and while it may be risky to send out our mechs to match the exobeasts in a duel, we must match their courage!"
To the Swordmaidens, accepting the challenge was a matter of honor. The Swordmaidens prided themselves on their combat prowess, and each of their adults survived a gruadation ceremony that compelled them to track down and slay a formidable exobeast on their own with nothing but some basic clothes and their swords!
The the Swordmaidens, these giant mech-sized exobeasts harkened back to the glory of forcing themselves to face off against an exobeast in open combat!
Eventually, Clarissa and Byrd agreed to send out one representative each. Captain Byrd gave the honor to Captain Orfan, who enthusiastically accepted the challenge.
"Don't you worry, old bird, I'll kick their scaly asses in a jiffy!" Captain Orfan boasted as she directed her spearman mech forward.
From the Swordmaiden ranks, a fairly typical Devil Razor stepped out from their ranks. This one appeared a little more ornate than most.
In fact, its tribal markings and the skeleton trophies adorning the Devil Razor caused the exobeasts to stamp their limbs and unsettle their exobeast riders. They may not be able to read the Devil Razor's tribal markings, but they recognized a champion when they saw one!
The spearman mech dyed in the same standard burgendy-and-black color scheme of all the other Vandal mechs seemed plain in comparison. Standing side-by-side with the Devil Razor, Captain Orfan's mech looked like a lackey rather than the machine of a mech officer.
Once they stepped at the midpoint about five-hundred meters away from the city walls, two of the exobeasts stepped forward. One of them appeared to be the king among their group while the other seemed to be of a different species.
They lumbered forward fairly quickly, though they appeared slower in every eyes due to their ponderous steps. Soon enough, they moved out of the citywide antigrav field, subjecting their entire bodies to six times the gravity.
The beasts hardly slowed down! The crystals largely remained dormant, with only the crystal closest to their riders emanating an active antigrav field.
"These exobeasts aren't built like runners." Dr. Tillman observed. "However, don't expect them to be slow to respond. Their musculature suggests that they can lunge and snap forward like a crocodile. Tell our duelists to watch out for lunging attacks."
"Every observation you make is being entered into our local database in addition to being shared with the Swordmaidens." Captain Byrd explained. "Keep up the good work. The more you figure out these exobeasts, the easier we can pull them off their pedestals."
Once the two exobeasts arrived at a certain distance from the two mechs, both sides stared at each other with wariness and anticipation.
The rider of the exobeast king then roused himself up his saddle and started to shout at the mechs. The two mechs at the front captured his voice and transmitted it back to the fast transport.
"You have approached Mulak, a territory of the sacred gods!" The man shouted in accented standard language. This confirmed that the descendants of the crew of the Starlight Megalodon hadn't lost all of their roots. "Hokaz, Tyrant of the Wastes, challenges one of your godless metal giants to sacred combat! If there is any honor among your heretical metal bones, then allow our sacred god to redeem you in battle!"
The reptilian exobeast unleashed a roar to emphasize the words issued by its rider!
"What the hell is a sacred god?" Chief Dakkon asked in puzzlement.
"I think the sacred gods refer to those exobeasts!" Ves supplied a possible response.
These descendants of the CFA actually revered these giant creatures! This was completely upside-down in the eyes of modern humanity. Alien species and beasts should be harnessed for their use, not the other way around! The thought that these seemingly brutish and primitive exobeasts actually ruled over the city sent a shudder through everyone's spines.
"That may not be necessarily true." Dr. Tillman quickly retorted. "Even if your words are factually true, their riders merely pay lip service to better corral the inhabitants of their cities. It is a lot harder to revolt against a heavy mech-sized beast than it is to rebel against a human leader."
Whether the exobeasts or their riders were actually in charge, nobody knew. The fact of the matter was that they were essentially acting as a single entity right now. The combination of an exobeast and its rider was equivalent to a mech and its mech pilot!
Captain Byrd sent an instruction to Captain Orfan. "These natives might not know that our mechs are piloted by humans. Go and pop your body out of your cockpit. They need to see that our so-called godless machines are ridden by humans."
A few seconds later, Captain Orfan and the Swordmaiden mech champion both emerged from their cockpits. They retracted the helmet of their piloting suits and revealed that they were humans just like the riders of the exobeasts!
The exobeasts and their riders reacted with considerable surprise. As expected, they had mistook the mechs for some kind of strange and aberrant giant creatures!
"I am Captain Rosa Orfan of the 6th Flagrant Vandals. On behalf of my mech regiment, I accept your challenge for single combat!"
"Good!" The lead rider laughed. "Then let us see if your godless machines can withstand the might of our sacred gods!"
The four champions didn't exchange a lot words. None of them were interested in talking. All of them acted like combat maniacs about to get their greatest fix!