By the time Ves had reached the command center, the battle had reached a climax. Ves made a profound impression on the crew as his elaborate set of armor replete with a thick cape and bloodstains on his greaves made it seem like he had waded through scores of bodies to get here.
"Mr. Larkinson, for the Republic's sake, I can forgive you for entering with your showpiece armor, but clean up your bloodstains before you enter!"
"Ah, my apologies, major! I'll get right on it!"
Ves took a small detour to wipe the stains off his armor. Once he no longer had any spec of blood marring his armored pirate guise, he returned to the command center and sat in the observation seat, which had to readjust its dimensions to accommodate his light combat armor.
He was about to ask what he could do to help, but Major Verle and the rest already seemed engrossed in their own duties. They looked like they had the battle well in hand, so Ves would only disrupt their harmony if he butted in.
He took stock of the situation in space. The Omen of Misfortune faced the brunt of the enemy offensive. However, Lydia's Swordmaidens and the Flagrant Vandals moved to assist by hitting the flanks of the Castle Breaker fleet. This forced them to abort their bullying attempt on the weaker Omen of Misfortune and redirect their spaceborn mechs to defend their vulnerable starships!
Meanwhile, the Caged and the Red Tongs threw themselves in the battle as well, but not so enthusiastically as the Flagrant Swordmaidens. The close-ranged mechs of the Red Tongs guarded over the long-ranged rifleman mechs of the Caged. They focused their efforts on harassing the forces of the Omen of Misfortune, occupying the hapless pirate gang steepled in mystique and preventing them from taking revenge on the beleaguered Castle Breakers.
Smaller pirate outfits flitted at the periphery, their insignificant mechs and firepower barely affecting the greater trend of the battle.
"Seems like the Castle Breakers bit off more than they could chew." He muttered as his eyes gazed over the plot like a roving hawk taking its time to select a suitable prey. "The Vandals already outnumber the Castle Breakers in terms of spaceborn combatants, and it's an even worse for them now that we have the Swordmaidens backing up our forces."
Lydia's Swordmaidens didn't exactly excel in spaceborn combat, but their murderous swordsman mechs made any clash in melee range a destructive endeavor.
As their name suggested, the Castle Breaker's mech doctrine excelled in breaking fortified position. They employed a mix of artillery mechs, cavalry mechs and a substantial lineup of medium melee mechs to crash and exploit any opening they made in an enemy's fortified position.
This was a strong but expensive mech lineup. Normal pirate outfits shied away from such a mech doctrine because it required adequate funding and a talented roster of mech technicians and mech pilots. Only elites among the pirates applied to join the Castle Breakers!
"Still, once they manage to get this lineup together, it can certainly pay back for itself in record time."
A stronger mech roster opened up new ways to earn money. From what Ves briefly found out through a quick search on the galactic net, the Castle Breakers opted to follow the essence of their name. They earned their living by cracking open secure settlements and fortified space stations like they were pinatas and grab all of the goodies that became exposed!
No fortress or stronghold in the frontier was safe against them. Heck, they even drifted into divilized space from time to time to attack distant company outposts. The only reason why they hadn't been banned from civilized space was because they scrupulously avoided civilian settlements in the Komodo Star Sector.
The same couldn't be said for the settlements in the Faris Star Region. The Castle Breakers weren't above raiding, pillaging and enslaving the degenerated descendants of past starfarers that had become stranded in the frontier.
They found a lucrative way to sustain themselves, and with a mech champion like Rowland 'Deathless' Ryke as their standard bearer, they attracted numerous skilled independent mech pilots over the years.
However, the talent of their mech pilots and the above average quality of their mechs was only relative to the predominant standard in the frontier. Their expensive mechs were as brittle sand when faced with the refined and well-designed mechs of the Flagrant Vandals. Their so-called elite pirate mech pilots faltered when they met the disciplined, coordinated Vandals who employed various battle formations to befuddle their individualistic minds!
The chaotic situation aside, the Castle Breakers had no hopes of winning against the Flagrant Vandals. Both sides knew it, so the Castle Breakers had started showing signs of trying to disentangle themselves from the battle they provoked on their own accord.
"It's not so easy to escape responsibility for your own actions!" Major Verle grinned as he leaned closer at the projection of the battle plot. "Captain Rakeshir, drive the fleet forward! Their mobility is their weak point! Let's show them how we Vandals break such a lumbering mech force into pieces!"
The battle had already entered a superheated phase with the Vandals gaining the upper hand from the moment they entered the battle. At no point were the Castle Breakers able to overcome the Vandal superiority in numbers, training, skill or martial tradition. The had already reinvigorated their attempts to back off from the fight, but the Vandals smelled blood right now and wouldn't let them leave!
The combat carriers of the Vandals surged ahead. The Shield of Hispania shook as her sub-light propulsion pushed the flagship into a straight course into the middle of the dogfights between their mechs.
"The mechs of the Castle Breakers have entered into the effective range of our Akkara mechs! Do you wish to give the command to open fire, sir?"
"Not yet!" Major Verle commanded. "Wait until our targets enter into medium range. At this range, our heavy artillery mechs will be liable to hit own our machines."
Everyone impatiently waited for their combat carriers to reach this magic range. The Akkara mechs had already slotted themselves into the bunker hardpoints placed along the hulls of the combat carriers. They were meant to blast their opposition apart, and it didn't matter whether they fought in space or on land!
The Castle Breakers weren't stupid. They saw the heavily-armored carriers of the Vandals coming, and their sensors spotted the heavy mech bunkers as well as anybody else.
Though the Castle Breakers possessed their own artillery mechs, they were one weight-class lighter and couldn't never match blow-for-blow against a heavy mech designed exclusively for the military!
Their retreat grew more frantic. The Vandals tried their best to pester their opponents and lock them into place, but it became harder to hold them as space offered too much freedom of movement to be pinned down like that.
The Inheritors harassed their flanks and rear, cutting off their escape route or at least making it ten times as difficult to pull back. The Hellcats and the random collection of other mech models held their attention at their front, pinning them down and acting as the anvil to the inevitable hammer that arrived in the form of their starships!
In the Age of Mechs, humans weren't allowed to employ warships armed with fixed gun emplacements. Employing heavy mechs in bunkers was in fact something of a loophole, but a minor one considering that their weapon caliber didn't exceed what could normally be employed by mechs.
Many military theorists still called to ban this practice entirely. Some purists even stated that ships shouldn't bear any armaments at all, not even the tiny anti-meteorite guns used to crack apart various space debris in their way.
Their voices gained no traction, fortunately. The loophole remained acceptable, so the Vandals would continue to employ this radical tactic of employing their combat carriers as makeshift warships!
The first ships had already approached close enough to enter into medium range. The Castle Breakers attempted to divert their approach by redirecting their available ranged firepower on the incoming ships of the Vandals, but to no avail! Even their heavy firepower needed some time to penetrate the thick outer layers protecting the combat carriers from damage.
"Our Akkara mechs all confirm their targets have entered within their effective medium range, sir! Permission to open fire?"
"Permission granted! Bombard these Castle Breakers into scrap!"
Low booms thundered throughout the entire ship as the Akkara mechs unleashed their heavy cannons. They skipped on the slow-moving explosive rounds and instead focused on unleashing their arsenal of kinetic and laser cannons.
The kinetic slugs propelled to insane speeds hit the Castle Breaker mechs with a force exceeding the punch of a mech! Their better armored mechs gained ugly dents upon impact that disrupted their initial moves. Their lighter mechs plainly broke apart or lost their limbs upon a direct impact!Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click for visiting.
The laser cannon beams on the other hand landed instantly on the mechs, transferring an incredible amount of energy, melting and vaporizing the mechs at varying rates depending on their armor. The Akkara mechs always concentrated the fire of their own cannons, bringing two or four massive laser beams to bear on a single mech.
The knight mechs among the Castle Breakers had to abandon their shields because it melted into slag when focused upon by two Akkara mechs, who pointed eight huge laser beams in total against its surface!
Left unprotected by its favorite protective gear, the subsequent volley practically burned through its armor in a matter of seconds. Its pilot hastily ejected from their doomed mech before they burned into ash!
"The Castle Breakers are breaking! Their spaceborn mechs have entered into a rout!"
The intensive bombardment from the Akkara mechs was too much for the elite pirates. Skilled as they were, they were completely in over their heads when they thought they could face a detachment from a military mech regiment in battle. Within the first three minutes upon the entry of the Akkara heavy cannoneers into the battle, the Castle Breakers lost more than fifty spaceborn mechs in quick succession!
Many of their mech pilots managed to eject from their derelict mechs in time, so the actual casualties suffered among them in terms of manpower was fairly low. Nonetheless, the loss of so many costly mechs already crippled their progress for years!
Due to the sheer chaos engulfing the battlefield, the ejected Castle Breaker pilots didn't dare to direct their cockpits to return to their motherships. For better or worse, they had to be left behind to drift away in the wake of the strewn-out debris field that formed a makeshift junk belt around the tiny terrestrial planet in the Mancroft System.
"Sir, the Castle Breaker mechs are fleeing for their lives while their fleet is coursing away from us. Shall we pursue?"
Major Verle faced a bit of a dilemma at this moment. Even though they won this battle easily, it cost a significant amount of time, ammunition and fuel to chase the intact ships of the Castle Breakers. And for what? Breaking their fleet would avail them of some additional spoils, but it took time to process the battlefield and their gains.
Their greater objective lay deep in the frontier, not in this stopover system, Ves thought.
Still, if the Castle Breakers had any involvement in the Starlight Megalodon, then it would be a mistake for the Vandals to let off their prey when they had a knife to their throats.
The Castle Breakers may have lost their entire spaceborn mech contingent, but their landbound mech roster was still intact!
If they combined their forces with an outfit that specialized in spaceborn combat, then they could still become a nuisance to the Vandals later on. The safest and most thorough decision here would be to pursue the fleet and annihilate or force the surrender of their ships.
"We pursue, but cautiously." Major Verle finally decided. "Recover our damaged or fallen mechs and retrieve our ejected mech pilots. Let our combat carriers take the lead. Our Akkara Mechs can safely bombard the Castle Breaker starships without the risk of retaliation. Inform Captain Rakeshir of my intentions."
The fighting may not be done yet, but the battle was essentially over. The Omen of Misfortune was saved and the Castle Breakers had met their inevitable end!
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