Chapter 2220: Invincible Mechs
The Battle of Xiphard Base started off with discord.
Many Crona Lords had the illusion that their base had just been visited by hundreds of invisible and completely unnoticeable infiltrators, assassins and saboteurs.
The sheer extent of the sabotage affecting so much vital equipment and parts couldn't have been done by a single covert strike squad.
Far too many systems that the Crona Lords depended upon to guard their base had all failed!
Some never came online. Others blew up once their power levels rose. The remainder worked normally, but the pirates in charge of operating didn't know whether they remained that way!
A huge wave of distrust spread amongst the pirates. Some of the more suspicious ones even started to eye each other with distrust!
The sheer depth and breath of the sabotage caused them to think that a massive conspiracy might be afoot.
What if the sabotage hadn't been performed by a large number of invisible enemies?
What if it was an inside job instead?
Once this thought entered the minds of Supreme Lord Roda and many other pirates, they all shuddered with fear. If this was the case, then at least hundreds of Crona Lords were in on the conspiracy!
When the officers in the command center began to panic and issue extreme orders, Supreme Lord Roda stood up from his chair!
"Stop! Look, I share your concerns, but this is no time to persecute our own men! Station all of our guards at critical sections and tell them to keep an eye on every slave and crew member. Tell our officers and supervisors to summarily execute anyone who stirs trouble or spreads panic, but don't act out when everyone behaves. We are the Crona Lords. We are better than this! Trust in your fellow brothers!"
His orders quickly imposed some order in the ranks of the Crona Lords. While the pirates were still disturbed by the sheer amount of defense systems, none of them wanted to roll over and die.
As long as their mechs could still fight, there was still a chance of repelling their heinous attackers!
With Supreme Lord Roda exercising calming leadership, the fighting forces of the Crona Lords slowly regained their order.
All of the training put into them caused them to shrug off the chaos and focus on the upcoming battle.
The energy emissions their sensors had detected were coming closer and closer. Soon enough, the pirates learned who possessed the audacity to attack one of the older and more entrenched pirate groups in Maynard Fields.
"The Larkinson Clan…"
"Who are they?"
"Wait, aren't those fellows supposed to be running wild in Wreckage Paradise?"
"Look at those 200 mechs in the front! Those are Hexer mechs!"
"Ahh! Second-class mechs, and so many of them! We're doomed!"
"Pipe down or I'll cut down your mech right this instant! Hexer mechs or not, our defenses are far more formidable than you think!"
"What defenses? They're all gone!"
The order and calm imposed by Supreme Lord Roda partially unraveled as soon as the pirates detected the presence of the Penitent Sisters!
In contrast to the upheaval taking place among the pirates, the combat forces of the Larkinson Clan remained under tight control.
Hundreds of Avatars of Myth flew in neat, slightly-dispersed formations. Their spotless gold coating along with the large amount of glows proliferating throughout their ranks caused them to build up a considerable momentum as they advanced.
The Avatar Commander decided to lead his forces into battle. Despite the risks, Melkor was still a mech pilot, and he did not wish to command from the rear!
The Speed Demons and the Bright Companions took part in the attack as well.
The former had already split off from the main force in order to approach the pirate base from the flanks. Tusa Billingsley-Larkinson knew he wasn't as close to the clan patriarch as the other expert candidates in the clan. He hoped his upcoming battle performance would raise his reputation!
"We are the sword and spear of the Larkinson Clan." Melkor transmitted to his men. "Make our clan patriarch proud and watch out for your fellow clansmen. For the clan!"
"For the clan!"
As for Joshua, the golden boy of the Avatars, he and his Bright Companions attracted a lot of attention. The Quint surrounded by a dozen Bright Warrior mechs distinguished themselves from the other Avatar mechs by the red stripe running vertically across the middle of their mechs.
Joshua insisted on adding the stripe in order to represent his conviction and reinforce the assault role of his Bright Companions.
The stripe ran from the top of their mechs, went past the third eye on their foreheads and cut straight through the front of their torsos until they ended at the lower waist.
Today, Joshua decided to outfit most of his Bright Warrior mechs with the swordsman mech configuration. This was the best loadout for large, protracted battles and chaotic brawls involving hundreds if not thousands of mechs.
A couple of Bright Warrior mechs in their space knight configurations gave the Bright Companions some insurance.
"Stay together and follow my lead. We will target every enemy officer mech and cause as much disruption in their ranks as possible. If you can't keep up, then fall back, but I expect each of you uphold the honor of the Bright Companions. For the clan!"
"For the clan!"
Commander Magdalena Larkinson was too old to take part in the battle, but she didn't need to. The Living Sentinels already fielded plenty of capable mech pilots and mech officers.
After clashing against several smaller pirate groups, the rookies of the Sentinels rapidly matured. The officers and seasoned veterans also became more proficient in guiding them and exercising their leadership over them. The Sentinel Commander was confident that none of her men would be making any rookie mistakes in this battle.
Commander Orfan of the Flagrant Vandals and Commander Dise of the Swordmaidens flew side by side as their forces were situated in the rear of the main force.
This was not a sign of disfavor to them. Instead, Major Verle held great trust in the experience, composure and veterancy of the two mech forces.
Unlike the Avatars and Sentinels who still had much to go before they matured, the Vandals and Swordmaidens were old hands in battle.
Therefore, Major Verle assigned the two to act as troubleshooters. If the Crona Lords put up much greater resistance than anticipated somewhere, then the Vandals and Swordmaidens were ready to intervene in an instant.
Neither Orfan nor Dise opened a private communication channel between their mechs. It wasn't needed.
Outside the Larkinson Network, they were already connected to each other through another spiritual bond.
Commander Orfan savagely curled her lips. "It's been a long time since we last fought side-by-side. I still remember our days on Aeon Corona VII."
"Feh." Dise snorted. "We lost too many good Swordmaidens on that cursed planet."
"We got to bond with the big lizard, but you're right. A lot of Vandals died as well."
"Let's make sure that none of our fellow clansmen suffer the same fate."
"I'm not sure we'll even get to make our moves." Commander Orfan grimaced. "Those Penitent Sister mechs can wipe out the pirates by themselves."
"Let's not get overconfident, sister. The Penitent Sisters are strong, but no Nyxian pirate is a pushover. It wasn't as bad back in the Faris Star Region, but even there it was unwise to drive a pirate into a corner."
"Hahaha! You're kidding, right? The entire base of the Crona Lords is falling apart around them! I heard that all of their fancy superweapons are offline. With their mechs and the few intact turrets they have left, what can they possibly do to beat those invincible Penitent Sister mechs?"
This time, the Penitent Sisters would be taking part in the battle! The exiled Hexers felt rather mixed about this deployment, but Commander Valerie Chancy who commanded her Sisters from the Surly Cockatrice thought slightly differently.
After experiencing the birth of the Superior Mother, her views on her employer had changed. There was something very special about Ves Larkinson that distinguished him from other boys.
"What is your connection to the Superior Mother? Are you truly just a boy?" She inwardly wondered.
Soon enough, the assault force entered into combat range. Even though a lot of asteroids still blocked the line of sight of many mechs, some of them already started to fire their weapons!
The pirates, though considerably less organized, responded in kind.
The quality disparity between the two sides immediately became apparent!
The Crona Lord mechs and turrets weren't individually powerful, but they had numbers on their side! Even after Lucky sabotaged a lot of defensive systems, a decent amount of turrets as well as a considerable number of bunker mechs still remained intact.
Those fixed defenses increased the damage output of the pirates, thereby causing the approaching Larkinson mechs to be met with a rain of fire!
Space knights and other sturdy mechs such as the Bright Warriors took the lead. The more vulnerable rifleman mechs and light mechs huddled in the rear. This caused most of incoming attacks to deal negligible damage.
As the distance shortened, the pirates started to land more solid hits, but that didn't necessarily boost their confidence.
The ranged mechs of the attackers hit much harder!
The Larkinsons mostly fielded premium mechs, so their rifles inflicted considerably more damage. Their mech pilots possessed considerably greater skill as well, so their shots accurately pounded the Kavenit armor plating of the pirate mechs even at longer ranges!
However, it was the Penitent Sister mechs that made their presence felt. Their ranged mechs fired much more powerful laser beams, positron beams and gauss rounds at the Crona Lords.
Hardly any Crona Lord mech could withstand a direct hit!
"You idiots! Don't fly in the open! Get into cover!" Supreme Lord Roda commanded.
The pirates enjoyed an immense defensive advantage. Even if most of their defenses had been knocked offline, the solid Kavenit alloy barriers still offered a lot of protection against ranged attacks! The Crona Lords significantly reduced their rate of losses after their mechs all took cover behind an asteroid or defensive fixture.
The Penitent Sisters didn't waste their firepower on the rabble, though. Instead, they directed their firepower towards higher-priority targets such as the armored turrets and fortified bunkers that were clad with heaps of Kavenit alloy!
Even with the prodigious damage potential of the Hexer mechs, the Penitent Sisters still had to concentrate their fire and fire continuous shots to neutralize all of the fixed defenses. The Crona Lords had mined way too much Kavenit over the decades and put some of them to very good use!
So far, the battle progressed within expectations to the Larkinson Clan. Major Verle observed the Crona Lord movement closely, but saw no sign that they were pulling out some hidden superweapon that Lucky's prior reconnaissance had overlooked.
That did not mean that Ves and Major Verle were ready to relax. Anything could happen in a battle of this scale, let alone smaller ones.
The extreme amount of scouting, preparation and sabotage they conducted may have given the Larkinson Clan some huge advantages, but until the pirates surrendered or lost their ability to fight, the Larkinsons still maintained their vigilance!
As the exchange of fire between the two sides became more intense, both sides suffered more and more damage.
The Crona Lords exhibited enough coordination to focus their ranged firepower on a handful of mechs. Once they learned that the Penitent Sisters mechs were too tough to be taken down in this fashion, they focused their ire on the Avatars of Myth but especially the Living Sentinels!
As the most numerous but weakest-looking mech force, the Sentinels endured the brunt of pirate attacks! Many of the mechs targeted by the pirates sustained severe battle damage and were forced to fall back prematurely, much to the regret of their mech pilots.
Some of the Sentinel mech pilots were even forced to eject their cockpits!
As for the Crona Lords, their assets succumbed at a significantly higher rate! With the Penitent Sisters methodically thrashing their fixed defenses, the Crona Lords felt more and more dread at the incredible power of so many second-class mechs.
"I didn't sign up to fight Hexers!"
"We'll all die before we can kill a single Hexer!"
As morale amongst the Crona Lords continued to drop, a change occurred on the battlefield.
A fleet of pirate ships emerged from the other side of Xiphard Base. Their markings and colors differed from that of the Crona Lords.
A substantial escort of hundreds of mechs surrounded the vessels. Some of them consisted of medium carriers, while others of them were large transports.
Supreme Lord Roda's eyes lit up! "Haha! You arrived early, my old friend!"
It turned out that one of the Supreme Lord's trading partners had dispatched its supply fleet early!
This unscheduled arrival completely floored Ves and Major Verle!
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