The sudden and completely illogical retreat of the Blind Men even before the battle properly begun put the entire pirate ranks into disarray!
No matter how much the pirate commanders of Kaso's Remediers and the Slick Hairs tried to admonish the Blind Men to return to the battle, their messages hadn't gotten through.
This was because Ves forcibly occupied the Blind Prophet's communication channel and kept it open using advanced CFA communications tech!
Now, it would have been salvegable if the Blind Men's second-in-command took over. Yet the Blind Prophet exerted such an overwhelming leadership position in the psuedo-cult-like organization that none of his subordinates dared to overrule his commands.
When the Blind Prophet spoke, everyone obeyed!
"This isn't part of the plan! Why are we running?!" A Blind Man mech pilot with a bit more sense asked his fellow pirates.
"You fool! The Blind Prophet will have your head if you disobey him! When he tells you to run, you better run!"
"This battle is already lost! Didn't you hear that angry mech designer?! Our mechs are scrap and only a single bump away from collapsing!"
"I think that guy is bluffing!"
"A mech designer doesn't lie about mechs, especially since ours is a ripoff of his own design! Don't you see how dangerous it is to fight against a mech designer with a mech that he can dissect to this degree!"
"Screw this! I don't want to have my mech shot out under me by a single well-placed shot!"
The Blind Men all kept running with no intention of rejoining the fight!
The confusion and the unexpected withdrawal truly put the remaining two pirate outfits aligned to the Dragon Alliance in a difficult spot. They didn't even particularly wanted to confront the famous Swordmaidens and their military allies in the first place.
Only their numbers advantage gave them sufficient courage to win, but the critical withdrawal of around sixty ranged mechs left a huge hole in both their numbers advantage and their tactical flexibility!
The lack of ranged fire support and suppression completely left the Swordmaiden melee mechs unchained! They blasted forward at great speed in their famous charges and immediately smashed a huge hole in the lines of the Remediers.
Commander Dise took the lead while piloting a spare Misty Slasher, chopping Remedier mechs left and right with her pinnacle expert candidate skills!
Even though Dise was a lot more comfortable piloting landbound mechs than spaceborn mechs, her recent ascension rapidly elevated her skills and learning ability. It was more than enough to tear apart the confused and disarrayed ranks of the pirates that thought to ambush the remnant fleet!
"Lift up your swords and hack them down to our foes! Let us teach these misguided men that the Swordmaidens are still alive!"
"Chop the pirates into half!"
The Vandals mechs acted with a bit more caution, adopting their usual role of backing the Swordmaiden mechs up and preventing them from being outflanked by their foes.
Light mechs from both sides kept the Slick Hairs in check. The battle at the flanks went poorly for the pirate mechs that all donned slick hairdos, and the only reason they managed to stabilize their ranks was that the Flagrant Swordmaidens mainly aimed their weapons at the Remediers!
Both Commander Dise and Major Verle agreed on their strategy! They needed to take this golden opportunity and hammer the Remediers before they recovered their wits and regained their composure!
The brutal collision and the constant pressure against the mech pilots of the Remediers put them under enormous strain. Command and control, already rather poor among the pirates ranks, completely frayed to the point where the Remediers hardly communicated with each other effectively.
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Who cared about orders when a relented Swordmaiden mech kept chopping at their cockpits!
If the Remediers and the Slick Hairs managed to maintain their composure, then they would have given the Flagrant Swordmaidens an even fight at best. Yet the differences in morale, preparation and readiness completely put the remaining two pirate forces on the back foot with no hope of stabilizing their lines!
"The Remediers are starting to route!"
When the Remediers lost a third of their mechs through the unrelenting assaults of the Swordmaidens and the tactical supremacy of the Vandals, the remaining pirates ceased to believe they could win!
Only a few cowards flew back to their carrier ships at the start, but that trickle soon became a flood when those who remained lost faith in the battle as well!
A cascade of chaotic retreats ensued as the Remediers completely lost cohesion!
"Chase after them! Don't let them return to their carriers!" Major Verle commanded. "Prioritize the capture of the Remedier and Slick Hair pirate carriers!"
"What about the Blind Men?"
"Let them go. They're already broken."
Everyone couldn't help but throw a numb, worshipful or impressed glance at Ves.
By now, he had run out of steam, having vented his anger and frustration about being confronted by a poor imitation of his own work. He plopped back in his observer's seat and blanked out.
He completely exhausted his emotional energy with his tirade!
While he possessed sufficient awareness of what a legendary feat he accomplished by verbally intimidating a significant force of pirates to turn tail and run, he couldn't muster up the energy to care at the moment.
Nonetheless, that didn't stop everyone's appreciation of saving the lives of many precious Vandal and Swordmaiden mech pilots! He single-handedly determined the outcome of the battle that none of the Flagrant Swordmaidens believed they could win without crippling losses in their favor!
His acid words and burning tongue not only tilted the advantage in their favor, but practically tilted it into a completely lopsided victory!
The Flagrant Swordmaidens hardly suffered any losses in the ensuing clash and pursuit! Aside from a dozen or so mechs that got wrecked to such an extent to force their pilots to eject, The Vandals and Swordmaidens managed to retain most of their battle strength!
"Capture their carriers! As many as possible! Don't stop until we force the surrender of at least four of them! Prepare our shuttles send in the boarding parties to hasten the capture!"
Once the pirate lines collapsed, victory became assured. The matters that followed merely consisted of cleanup and securing their gains.
In the end, they managed to capture four shambling pirate carriers with relative ease. The only reason why the Vandals and Swordmaidens didn't capture the remainder was because the Remediers and the Slick Hairs still retained enough mechs to put up a desperate fight if cornered.
By leaving them a way out, the Flagrant Swordmaidens ensured their foes would continue to take the available escape route.
"Four carriers is a decent enough haul, especially considering we don't have the time to convert them for our use."
With sandman motherships about to transition at the emergence zone, the Flagrant Swordmaidens didn't have much time to arrange their spoils. The salvage teams didn't bother with recovering any of the mech wrecks and instead started stripping the captured pirate carriers of their fuel and supplies with great haste!
Soon enough, the Flagrant Swordmaiden carriers transitioned back into FTL with their newly replenished stores of starship-grade fuel and containers worth of low-grade materials.
Ves didn't pay too much attention to the aftermath of the battle. His battle-turning performance earlier drained quite a lot out of him. Not only on an emotional level, but also on a spiritual level for some reason.
As he recovered quietly in the isolation of his office with just a fawning security guard standing in the corner, he tried to puzzle out why his spirituality became affected.
He eventually reasoned that he put his full passion into his speech. He inadvertently concentrated his whole mind into his spontaneous actions and channeled his fury in an even more single-minded focus than when he designed a mech!
This was the power of passion!
Whether channeling his Spirituality actually made a difference, Ves didn't know. In his judgement, as long as the Blind Prophet listened for a couple of seconds, he had already fallen into the pit!
There was no way out once the Blind Prophet heard the truth!
"Nothing hurts more than the truth." Ves nodded to himself. "There's no way the Blind Men can keep their composure once they hear how flawed their mechs really are. A mech is not like a sidearm that they can casually replace if they find fault with it! Mechs are investments that they have to rely on for years!"
Mech pilots entrusted their lives to their mechs. Their sometimes intimate relationship with their own mechs caused them to be hurt that much deeper when Ves brutally exposed their shortcomings. The fact that he mostly didn't lie at all when he listed out their many faults meant that they absolutely had no doubt that he spoke the truth!
Ves eventually received a notification from Major Verle. He finally got called to another private meeting with the big man.
"Let's see what he has to say."
He exited his office and stalked the familiar route to Verle's stateroom. As he passed by a large number of Vandal officers and ratings on duty, he received both respectful and fearful responses.
Some greeted him like a fellow Vandal buddy. Others saluted at him as if he was a Vandal officer. The rest shied away from him as if he was the devil.
No matter what, the distance between Ves and the rest of the Vandals had closed. Just like with the ground forces, Ves adequately proved himself to the men and thereby gained their acknowledgement.
Almost no one considered him an outsider anymore!
While that gave him cause to smile, he quickly dropped it once he thought of all of the Vandals who hadn't been able to make it off the surface of Aeon Corona VII. The ground forces respected him as well, but that wasn't enough for him to save them all at the hands of the Vesians.
"The only reason why my feat is so significant is because we have too few mech pilots left to put up a good fight."
This dampened his mood somewhat as he filed into Major Verle's office. This time, his ever-present security guard remained outside, giving the two senior figures some privacy.
"So." The commanding officer stared at Ves like he was an experimental specimen. "That happened."
"That happened." Ves echoed.
"Absurd as the events today have proceeded, there is no doubt that you have saved many of our lives and even ruled out the possibility of defeat. On behalf of the Vandals, thank you, Ves. You are as much a hero as the other famous Larkinson mech pilots. You are a credit to your family line."
Ves smiled deprecatingly at Verle. "It's true that I'm a Larkinson, sir, but I've been raised outside of their soldier circles. I have no desire to be compared to my fellow family members who are out fighting on the frontlines every day in their mechs."
"You give yourself too little credit. In my eyes, your impact on this battle is equivalent to what an expert pilot on our side can do. Sixty mechs! You turned away sixty mechs by yourself without paying a painful price! In the standardized evaluation criteria of the Mech Corps, your individual contribution value of this battle is through the roof! That deserves a medal and a commendation at the very least."
"Sounds good, sir." Ves shrugged. "I guess I can add that to the pile of contributions I've already earned."
The major smiled at him. "You're a real treasure, aren't you, Mr. Larkinson? From your exemplary performance and initiative you showed throughout your journey with us, and from your pivotal role in seeing the mission to success, you're due for an enormous reward. The Bright Republic isn't parsimonious when it comes to recognizing their heroes."
Ves didn't know how to feel about that. Perhaps in a normal state of mind, he would have felt jubilant about earning such recognition. Now though, he just felt tired. Tired of constantly falling into desperate straits and tired of being pushed to the brink of defeat.
He just wanted to go home.