It became evident that the upturned terrain played to House Eneqqin's advantage. The abundant amount of obstacles and cover played to their advantage. While their elite ranged mechs couldn't shoot at the Vandal mechs, neither would the Vandals be able to use their weight of numbers in melee and ranged mechs to bear.
The choke points that Lord Javier and his honor guard held for seconds at a time before squirreling away always forced the Vandals to fight the Vesian mechs in one-to-one duels.
A knight piloted by a seasoned Vandal clashed violently against the Vesian tiger mech. While most felinid mechs emphasized speed and agility, the honor guard bestial mechs carried a lot more armor than usual, allowing it to not lose out too much when it pitted its physical weight against the knight.
"You're outnumbered! Surrender now or be ground into dust!" The knight broadcasted.
The tiger mech wrenched up a claw to parry the incoming sword slash. "The only ones who will turn into dust are invaders like you!"
The two mechs pushed against each other, trying to bully their opponents with their weight. The Vandal burgundy and black provided a stark contrast against House Eneqqin's astral blue and silver.
The clashes grew more violently, but neither side got the upper edge. The knight mech possessed more throwing weight, but the tiger mech possessed a firmer footing. The differences in mech shapes led to a lot of complexities.
Unfortunately, the Vandal pilots lacked experience dealing with bestial mechs. Though they often trained against them in simulations, they never got to fight against them a lot in the real universe.
That proved devastating as an another tiger mech jumped from behind the tiger mech locked in combat. The second bestial mech jumped against a wall of debris with its four limbs and used it as a platform to change its trajectory and swoop at the knight mech from its flank!
The second tiger mech's jump happened too fast for the knight mech to respond. In addition, the front tiger mech tied the knight mech down by doubling up its aggression.
The Vandal mechs at the rear tried to move forward to help, but the bottleneck hindered their approach.
A massive crunching sound emerged as the second tiger mech chomped the knight mech's sword arm. Its forward momentum also caused it to slam against the knight, which completely destabilized its footing. Another hard wrench caused the tiger mech to savage the sword arm as it tried to pull it out of its socket.
While the tiger mech eventually failed to do so, the other tiger mech pounced on the knight mech which was in no shape to defend and tore apart its chest armor with repeated claw strikes.
The Vandal pilot finally had enough. His cockpit ejected from his mech before the claws could go past the chest armor and do more damage.
Further ahead, the Loquacious Raphael clashed against a Vandal swordsman mech. Though the latter mech's quality couldn't measure up against the Raphael, its mech pilot excelled at defense. Lord Javier's habit of broadcasting his special moves even allowed him to move in advance.
"Twin Star Meteor Storm!"
The Raphael's sword glowed like a comet as it hacked down onto the Vandal swordsman mech in quick succession. The flurry of blows contained little elegance, and the glow was just a cosmetic addition to the sword instead of an indicator of resonance.
Nevertheless, the swordsman mech struggled to defend against the might and frequency of attacks. Even though the Raphael only wielded its sword in one arm, the sheer strength in them was enough to push back the Vandal mech despite wielding its broadsword with both hands.
"I need some help here!"
A Vandal rifleman mech approached from behind the swordsman mech and tried to lean to the side in order to unleash a volley of explosive shells.
Lord Javier noticed the maneuvering and grinned. "Villains! Fight me one-on-one if you dare!"
"This isn't an arena! Ignore his words and pile up on him!"
"Take this then! Combo attack: Twin Rainbow Helix!"
The Raphael charged up its resonating rifle arm, channeling an ungodly amount of energy in the rifle. The swordsman mech desperately surged forward in order to interrupt Lord Javier's so-called combo attack, but the Rapheal's sword deftly slowed down its progress.
The rifle unleashed a spinning rainbow shell that impacted the swordsman mech's chest and blew up in a directional fashion. Most of the energies unleashed by the explosion was directed further into the mech, causing the swordsman mech to stagger.
Immediately after the explosion wracked the chest armor, a spinning sword entered the opening in the chest armor and churned past the weakened armor layers without effort. The sword kept spinning as it entered deep inside the chest until it rammed through the cockpit and blended the pilot inside into hashed meat.
"NO!" The mech pilot of the rifleman mech yelled. The ranged mech fired a barrage of shells at close range. Most of them hit the Raphael head on but its frontal armor consisted of high-quality compressed armor that easily endured the rifle shells.
"Hahahaha! Villains like you are unqualified to sully my Raphael!" Lord Javier taunted as he jerked his mech's sword from its latest kill while bringing up his ballistic rifle.
The Raphael quickly unleashed a salvo of unenhanced shells. Unlike the Raphael, the rifleman mech was a lot more fragile. The three shells all landed on its chest, causing the frontal armor to be crumpled into pieces.
Just as the rifleman mech wanted to retreat, the Raphael jumped over the wreck of the swordsman mech and chopped down with its sword, which sliced through the weakened chest in a single blow.
The rifleman mech tipped over as the internal damage caused it to lose all power. Before the pilot could eject, the Raphael stomped its open chest with its foot, causing the cockpit and its occupant to be fattened into a pancake.
"Brighter scum deserve no quarter!"
Just as the Raphael surged forth with its majestic red cape flapping in the wind, a barrage of long-ranged lasers and kinetic projectiles slammed into its rear. The cape instantly gained a couple of holes and the custom mech's rear armor gained some dents.
"Treacherous cowards!" Javier yelled in frustration as he urged his mech out of the bottleneck and into cover. "You'll pay for turning my regiments against me!"
The rebel-controlled hovertanks finally showed their utility. Though they normally hovered a few meters above the ground to minimize their energy consumption, they could also float higher in the air if they wished.
In the absence of aerial mechs, they formed the versatile units in the air. Normally, they would never float in the air and expose themselves in such a reckless manner. The hovertanks waited close to the ground as the rebels spent almost all of their available manpower in destroying every nearby anti-air turret that exposed their positions as they attempted to stop the artificial meteorites.
With every anti-air turret in the vicinity taken out, the hovertanks floated above the rubble and hills of debris until they gained a clear line of sight of the Vesian mechs. Their powerful cannon muzzles fired a variety of lasers, shells and projections that wouldn't lose out from what an Akkara heavy mech could unleash.
"Annoying thiefs!" Lord Javier yelled as his mech and his honor guard all pulled back. The hovertanks started to surround them in a circle, granting them no respite no matter where they hid behind. "Don't think you can use my property against me without a price!"
The Loquacious Raphael transmitted a wide-area signal that reached every hovertank in the vicinity.
Five of them instantly lost power and plummeted to the ground. The height of the fall and the force of the impact practically killed every crewmember inside the vehicles.
Unfortunately, only the latest model of hovertanks had been taken out this way. Plenty more remained aloft. The rebels had long scoured their systems for backdoors and other vulnerabilities. The reason why the latest model ultimately failed was because the auxiliary regiments only received them a few months ago.
"Keep up the pressure! Lord Javier won't be able to shut us down!" The tank commander urged his crews.
The hovertanks couldn't maneuver very fast in the air, and they also needed to slow down in order to lay down accurate fire, but their crews possessed enough training to minimize their exposure until they were ready to fire.
The honor guard's ranged mechs stopped supporting the Raphael and the tiger mechs in order to suppress the hovertanks bobbing in the air. Both the mechs and the tanks played it safe, so they didn't make a lot of progress in the short term.
Only the Raphael's rifle could take them down in a single hit, and only if it employed its resonance.
Lord Javier lost some of his joviality as the hovertanks entered the battle. He couldn't pull back and shoot down the floating vehicles as his presence was very integral in stopping the Vandal mechs in their tracks. His tiger mechs wouldn't be able to halt all of the Vandal mechs by themselves.
While Commander Breskin and Captain Orfan hadn't communicated any plans, they adjusted to each other's movements as if they were part of the same unit.
The Vandals stopped trying to press forward and merely tried to tie their adversaries down.
Meanwhile, the rebel hovertanks slowly chipped away at the honor guard mechs. They not only threatened their ranged mechs, they also put some pressure on the tiger mechs, forcing them to be less brazen unless they wished to be filled with holes.
The cramped terrain turned from an advantage to a disadvantage to House Eneqqin's mechs. While they took full advantage of the broken terrain to bottleneck their opponents so that their superior numbers amounted to nothing, the presence of the hovertanks and their ability to disregard most obstacles turned their advantage back into a disadvantage.
The confined spaces limited their range of motion, and they simply didn't have any room to dodge.
Lord Javier gritted his teeth as his Raphael pulled back. The mech's rifle was extremely powerful and already took out numerous Vandal mechs and hovertanks, but its magazine emptied out very quickly.
When the Raphael initially emerged from the bunker, Javier ordered a backpack module to be attached to its back. Beneath its tattered cape rested an ammunition carrier.
The Raphael quickly sent a signal to the rifle, causing it to detach and drop its spent magazine. The mech then maneuvered its rifle to its back in a specific position. A fresh magazine emerged from an opening of the backpack module and slammed into the breech of the weapon.
Having finished its reloading process, the Raphael jumped back into the action with its rifle arm glowing brighter.
"Triple Rainbow Shell!"
The rifle unleashed three shells in quick succession. Each of them somehow accurately hit three hovertanks that dipped down a bit too late. Powerful rainbow explosions coursed through each vehicle, wrecking them completely and lessening the pressure on the honor guard.
Inside the Raphael's cockpit, Lord Javier started to sweat profusely. Pushing the Raphael to enact resonance imposed a significant burden to his mind. Advanced mech pilots lacked the mental strength to elicit resonance from their mechs. Even if fake resonance was a pale imitation of the real thing, Javier's mind became increasingly strained as the battle went on. Yet he never thought about stopping.
He was having the time of his life. He felt as if he was made to fight this battle. "Come, Vandals! Show me your best! Where are your champions?! I want a challenge!"
"If it's a challenge you want, then here I am!"
A spear stabbed towards the Raphael, causing it to interrupt its targeting of the hovertanks. It fired a quick shell at the mech that drove forth the spear, only for the Vandal mech to sidestep the attack in the nick of time.
The Raphael's sword entangled the spear and barely managed to redirected it away from its frame, though the spear still managed to scrape against its arm.
Captain Orfan's looted spearman mech pulled back the spear and brandished it towards the Raphael. "Your playtime is over kid!"