When Ves was young, he used to watch a lot of dramas about mechs. Some of the staple villains of the shows piloted irregular mechs built with strange materials. The idea of cannibalizing a formidable alien creature's corpse and using it to form a chimera mech often horrified and fascinated the impressionable kids that watched these broadcasts.
He had never thought to come across an actual chimera mech in a serious setting. The maniacal Dr. Jutland sat on a crudely crafted chair welded to the top of the dinosaur-shaped hexapod king. The massive creature resembled an unholy amalgamation of rotted hide and rusting metal.
Despite its shoddy construction, the base materials exceeded those used by every other mech on site. Despite colliding with the intact Ajax Olympian several times, its entire frame simply took no damage. An unknown but potent power source kept the chimera mech running at an astounding level.
"Hand over your mech designer!" Doctor Jutland raged as he ordered his chimera mech to bash through the Olympian standing in its way.
Through a combination of guts, the hunting platoon avoided getting bulldozed by the extremely powerful chimera mech. The Empyreans tried to pin it down with their railguns, but the chimera mech hardly took notice of the high-powered kinetic projectiles. Even shooting at its head didn't work, as some kind of energy shield bounced away anything that could threaten the mad doctor.
Only Captain Kaine achieved some progress in pushing the monstrosity back. Her gleaming white Cathrec possessed a remarkable combination of speed and power that allowed it to threaten the chimera mech's incredibly tough exterior with its powered spear.
"Get out of the way!" The doctor bellowed as his chimera mech shied away from a deadly spear strike. "My subjects! Heed my call! Destroy these interlopers!"
Half-a-dozen adult hexapods answered his call and stormed the hunting platoon. The Volmars had their hands full fending off the berserk beasts. Unfortunately for Jutland, the sole functioning Olympian and the Cathrec continued to fend off the chimera mech.
The Olympian's shield looked increasingly tattered, but the Cathrec landed a couple of solid blows in exchange.
Evidently, the damage pained the doctor to the extreme. He wailed and shrieked in an inhumanly loud pitch that caused the nearby hazard suits to dampen their sound transmissions. Even Ves started to feel dizzy for a reason.
"Get back, Ves!" Ensign D'Amato urged as he showed up by his side. His other hand held a ballistic pistol that appeared completely useless to the situation at hand. "Doctor Jutland is trying to kidnap you. The last thing we want is to see you ending up in his hands!"
Under the ensign's guidance, Ves reached the base of a massive tree and holed up inside a hollow.
"What's going on? Who's Doctor Jutland?"
The ensign carefully watched the surroundings for approaching hexapods and considered his answer. "There's no use hiding it any longer. He's a survivor of the previous expedition that previously travelled the Groening System. We never expected him to cling to his life in this way."
Ves had so many questions. How could anyone survive for twenty-seven years straight on this planet? "Is he still alive or is he some kind of AI?"
"He's still human, for a given definition of it." D'Amato quickly explained. "He's an exobiologist who already extensively modified his body before he signed up for the previous expedition. Like many scientists, he flocked to the frontier in order to escape his past. He's vastly overqualified for the job. Our logs show that he conducting a small number of very reckless experiments during the previous expedition."
The battle continued to rage around the two. Mechs fought against hexapods while the chimera mech continued to chip away at the Olympian's shield.
Meanwhile, the mechs from George's Cavalry reluctantly offered their aid. They assisted the Volmars into repelling the maddened hexapods, allowing the hunting platoon to mop them up one at a time.
Though Ves still had questions about the doctor, D'Amato didn't know anything more. Instead, he turned to the chimera mech. "Who's controlling that monster? It doesn't appear that Jutland is controlling it directly."
"That's one of the questions we are wondering about as well. Take a good look. What's your judgement as a mech designer?"
Ves took a very good look at the chimera mech. Once he got past his shock, his fascination started to grow. For a mech that lasted more than two decades, it exhibited an astounding level of resilience.
"Jutland isn't employing a neural interface, nor is he using any physical controls. If we leave out the metaphysical possibilities like telepathy, then I'm guessing something else is piloting the chimera mech. Is he using the hexapod king's own brains to control the chimera mech, or is another survivor piloting the monster from within?"
Both possibilities sounded horrifying. If Jutland implanted a brain from a dead beast, then technically the chimera mech was an undead creation.
On the other hand, if a human pilot controlled the chimera mech from within, then he might be even madder than Doctor Jutland. Who knew how much a twenty-seven year isolation from human space took a toll on their psyches.
Ensign D'Amato held his hand over his helmeted head. He received new instructions. "Ves, Captain Kaine is ordering you to analyse the chimera mech's weak points. She wants to know the best way to disable Jutland's ride."
"I can do that."
He wanted this ordeal to be over a quickly as possible. Ves didn't relish being kidnapped by a mad doctor who had been stewing among the hexapods for so many years. The faster the hunting platoon destroyed the chimera mech, the faster he'd be able to repair the crippled Olympian and return to the highly guarded base camp.
Ves started to study the mech in greater detail, paying attention to the various holes in the rotted creation. "The chimera mech looks to be in an awful state, but don't let its appearance deceive you. The hexapod king's hide and bones haven't degraded to the point where they are easily broken."
"That's not a weak point."
"I know, I'm just telling you not to focus upon its intact sections. The chimera mech has been through a lot of battles over the years. I'm seeing plenty of signs of battle damage. A lot of them has been patched up by improvised repairs. Whoever fixed the damage is no mech designer or mech technician. Some of the limbs are are slower and have lost a lot of range of motion. You can try to pressure the joints of its middle left leg and its upper right arm."
The captain had evidently patched into their communication channel, because she immediately adjusted her targeting. Her speartip started to dart at the joints of those specific limbs. A single strike even struck a heavy blow near the joint that caused a handful of scales to fly away in a shower of sparks.
"Nonono!" Jutland screeched. "My Kaius! My lovely Kaius! This is unforgivable!"
Despite his indignation, the chimera mech lost a lot of its aggression. The mind that controlled the Kaius knew that taking a hit at its imperfectly repaired joints could result in a lot of damage.
By the time the Cathrec pushed the Kaius a fair distance back, the rest of the hunting platoon had finished off the hexapods with the help of George's Cavalry. The Volmars started to flank the chimera mech while the mercenaries stayed close to the transport that continued to hover above the tree cover.
This time, Ves determined another weak point. "I'm fairly certain the head is the cockpit. That must be the reason why it's protected by a shield generator."
"The shield generator is impervious." The ensign replied. "I know you are wearing one as well, so you should know that they are capable of resisting almost anything as long as they have enough power."
"They drain an enormous amount of power. I don't know what this Kaius is running on, but I bet there's a limit to what the shield generator can bear at a time. Even with an unlimited power supply, the shield generator won't be able to sustain the massive amounts of energy running through its systems."
A light went off in the ensign's head. "I see. I should have thought of it myself. As incredible as the chimera mech appears, it's still a machine. What do you suggest?"
"Keep hitting the head with simultaneous attacks. It doesn't matter if the blows seem ineffective. As long as the shield generator is working at its upper limits, it will only be a matter of time before it breaks down."
What Ves suggested allowed the weaker mechs in the hunting platoon to do something useful. As medium melee mechs, the Volmars lacked the strength to damage the chimera mech's weak points. Their staffs and maces constantly bounced off the Kaius when they struck the oversized machine.
Melkor's Stanislaw joined the Empyrean into pressuring the shield generator with carefully aimed volleys. Even though the Stanislaw's ballistic rifle lacked the punch of a railgun, its rate of fire made up for it. Both models held the Kaius back when it tried to retaliate against the flanking Volmars.
The doctor finally had enough. "Insolent creatures! You humans are always in the way!"
The doctor retrieved a strange, cylindrical device from his blackened lab coat and pressed a button.
"That doesn't look good! Get away!"
The Volmars that assaulted the Kaius from all sides reacted quickly and turned away.
The empty eye sockets of the Kaius started to glow in an unearthly blue light. The jaw of the chimera mech hinged down and a jet of blue-colored flames emerged from the opening that engulfed the Cathrec.
Captain Kaine frantically dodged her mech aside. The Cathrec suffered a nasty burn that caused the hand that held onto the spear to melt into slag. The captain's quick reaction saved her elite mech from suffering more substantial damage.
Having lost its initial prey, the Kaius turned its head towards the lumbering Olympian. The heavy mech couldn't step back fast enough to escape the effective range of the chimera mech's breath weapon and suffered a substantial amount of burns onto its entire frontal surface. Only its half-broken shield and its incredibly thick armor saved the mech from total annihilation.
The Kaius couldn't maintain its breath weapon for long. It drizzled out after a dozen seconds. The incredible heat washed over the entire area and even caused the ground to scorch and melt into a puddle due to the incredible amount of heat.
Even Doctor Jutland didn't look so fresh anymore, even though the shield generator saved him from getting cooked by proximity. Frustration marred his mad expression.
"Keep defying your fate! I shall return to take back my dues!"
The Kaius turned around and lumbered away on all of its six limbs. Even though the mech weighed more than the Olympian, its running gait could match the Cathrec in speed. Captain Kaine didn't order her mechs to pursue. Instead, she rearranged the hunting platoon in order to cover both of the damaged Olympians.
Ves and D'Amato emerged from the tree hollow as the mechs secured the perimeter. They approached the Olympian who faced the breath weapon head-on but couldn't get very close due to the lingering heat.
"The pilot reports that he can still move his mech." D'Amato related to Ves. "Is it safe for it to walk back to base under its own power?"
"While I'm certain there's some internal damage, the Ajax Olympians won't be taken down so easily. Their armor has an incredible capacity to withstand heat. It will need an overhaul once it returns to base, but it will hold up for several days without problem."
His pronouncement relieved the hunting platoon. The repair party only brought enough supplies to repair one Ajax Olympians. Ves and the other mech technicians had to repair the Olympian with the crippled leg as fast as possible before Doctor Jutland returned with a horde of a hexapods.
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