The Mech Touch
A dangerous host of Starspawn surrounded the Defiled Gene.
The mysterious light carrier became the nucleus of a gathering of the most dangerous astral lifeforms in the Dark Sphere!
None of the outfits presents let their guard down.
They maintained a healthy distance from the radiating orbits of the dark jellyfish-like creatures, afraid that they would buckle out of the control of whatever means Mr.
Drenad used to exert control over the astral creatures!
Even Eloise felt disconcerted by her proximity to the beasts.
The Starspawn inflicted huge losses on the Insurmountable Drakes over the years.
If they succeeded in repelling the Starspawn, it quickly turned out that they were worse off due to the amount of fuel, energy and supplies they used up.
There was absolutely no profit to be gained from battling the Starspawn!
Not even the increasing amount of Alpha Starspawn tissue they accumulated in their stores served to give them any satisfaction.
Though they knew that the powers that be hungered for Alpha Starspawn tissue, it didn ’t help out the Insurmountable Drakes at all because they couldn ’t exchange it for critical supplies!
Despite Eloise ’s misgivings about this venture, Commander Pritchard went onboard with the plan, which meant the rest of the Insurmountable Drakes followed suit.
Besides, she saw the logic in the plan.
By throwing the Starspawn at the defenses of the Silent Nomad forces as cannon fodder, the outfits stood a real chance at breaking through to the portal that led them back to normal space!
The Defiled Gene gathered so many Starspawn that the Silent Nomad forces needed to exert a huge amount of effort to repel their assault.
This gave the remaining outfits the confidence that this risky plan might succeed.
If they attacked on their own, then there was no question that they would break into pieces!
A tense half day of travel ensued.
As they came closer and closer to the space fortress the Silent Nomad forces parked in front of the portal, the enemy detected their presence and readied themselves for battle.
As Eloise performed her final checks, Ves eagerly prepared to absorb a lot of insights during the upcoming battle.
This was what he anticipated the most!
”Prepare for battle.
” Commander Pritchard broadcasted over their channel.
”Don ’t forget who we are and what we are fighting for.
Don ’t try to defeat the military forces of the Silent Nomad Star Sector.
Instead, focus on making space so that our ships and mechs can reach the portal! ”
The portal was all that mattered!
As the alliance of independents came within range, the military garrison seemed split between deciding whether to focus on repelling the Starspawn of the outfits first.
The Defiled Gene made that decision for them as they sent a silent command that forced the Starspawn to accelerate!
The astral monsters were closing in quick, forcing the military mechs and turrets to focus their fire upon the dangerous creatures first!
” Commander Pritchard exulted.
”Keep to the flanks and push through while they are distracted! ”
The defenders did not ignore the approaching outfits.
Even though they diverted most of their firepower to repel the rabid Starspawn, they allocated hundreds of mechs to hinder the advance of enemy mechs and ships.
” She commanded her squad.
”Don ’t spare your energy cells! Just shoot and shoot until your mech runs out! ”
Her Valiant Warden flew in front of a squad of ranged mechs as they unleashed their lasers at the approaching enemy mechs.
Lasers and rounds shot back at them in return, but Eloise kept absorbing the majority of the incoming firepower with her thick shield.
The Valiant Warden long lost the shield it originally carried.
The Insurmountable Drakes long substituted its need for a shield with salvaged armor plating.
Over the years, the mech technicians of the Drakes learned to be creative and resourceful.
In order to provide the Valiant Warden with the best form of protection, they repurposed large chunks of bulky starship armor plating! The shield they created from salvaged starship pieces were so thick and heavy and Eloise ’s mech lost over eighty percent of its mobility!
The Valiant Warden ’s average flight system strained against all of the extra mass!
However, all of that extra bulk gave the Valiant Warden an incredible capacity to block incoming fire.
Lasers, rounds and missiles kept pummeling the increasingly deforming shield, yet Eloise and her Valiant Warden bore the brunt of the aggression with confidence!
It took a lot of grit and determination to face the firepower head-on without attempting to dodge them at all!
In effect, even if Eloise was piloting a medium space knight, the burden of carrying a huge slab of repurposed ship armor plating basically forced her to pilot her machine as a heavy mech!
Ves learned a lot of useful insights from her piloting style.
The best part about what he learned was that they would also be applicable to his upcoming mech design.
Everything he learned was directly to his ongoing design project!
The Insurmountable Drakes and the other outfits managed to make inroads into their assault.
The defenders had their hands full trying to kill off the Starspawn.
This split attention forced them into retreat, but everyone knew it was only a matter of time before they killed off the bulk of the Starspawn!
”It ’s not enough! ” Eloise gritted her teeth as her shield was starting to crack and buckle under the strain.
The surface of the Valiant Warden ’s shield was scorching hot from all the lasers that blasted against the surface! The kinetic rounds that impacted it chipped away chunks of protective materials while missiles left deeper impact craters.
All the while, casualties mounted against the independent mechs.
There were far too few space knights to cover for everyone.
The vulnerable ranged mechs malfunctioned quickly after sustaining a barrage of firepower.
Years of depending on salvage and makeshift repairs to keep the mechs alive left a toll on their integrity.
The structural integrity of some of these maintenance-deprived mechs was even worse than bargain bin mechs!
Despite her efforts, Eloise failed to fully shield her comrades.
The Insurmountable Drakes as a whole already lost a dozen mechs, many of which incurred fatal damage so abruptly that their mech pilots didn ’t have the time to eject!
Commander Pritchard continued to exhort his men! ”We can ’t die here, Drakes! Home is just around the corner! Press on and fight no matter who is standing in our way! ”
The urgency of this battle continued to pressure Eloise into exerting more and more effort into shielding her comrades.
However, all the coordinated firepower the military mechs poured into her direction eventually broke the Valiant Warden ’s shield!
” She yelled.
”This is not over yet! I shall not fall here! ”
The Valiant Warden endured the firepower impacting its surface as best as it could, but the volume of fire was so huge that it wouldn ’t last for more than a minute at most!
Eloise forcibly rotated her mech so that various portions of its frame absorbed the damage.
By spreading the damage around, the Valiant Warden lasted long enough to arrive in front of a wrecked mech.
The Valiant Warden utilized its strengthened hands to grip the mech hulk in its grasp.
It was using the remnants of a wrecked mech as a makeshift shield!
Through the creative use of debris on the battlefield to serve as makeshift shields, Eloise managed to keep shielding her comrades from enemy fire.
Though the mechs didn ’t last too long, the Valiant Warden easily discarded the spent wrecks and moved on to grab a new one.
Yet as she continued to hinder the military ’s attempts at repelling the independent outfits, she became increasingly more concerned at how the battle progressed.
”The Starspawn are being slaughtered!
” Someone yelled in an open channel.
”The stupid beasts are just charging straight into the kill zones set up by the military! ”
The Starspawn were usually much more cunning in battle, preferring to employ ambush attacks to surprise their prey.
An open battle where they approached the enemy in a straight line prevented from blending in with the dark nebulas and areas of murky space where they could compensate for their lackluster resilience.
Right now, whenever Eloise diverted some of her attention to the decreasing number of Starspawn, she became increasingly more alarmed at how fast time was running out!
The Insurmountable Drakes only made it halfway through.
They needed to cross a lot of distance before they reached the portal that led them out of the Dark Sphere, but the resistance from the military forces were already beginning to intensify!
It was increasingly harder for the Drakes and the other outfits to push the military back!
The huge space fortress alone presented the biggest obstacle of all! As long as that defensive bulwark remained to anchor the defensive forces, they had little hope that they could fight their way past it! Yet nothing in their arsenal was powerful enough to crack such an imposing fortress!
The Drakes already lost more than half of their mechs before the battle took another turn.
The Defiled Gene which flew at the center of an increasingly diminishing formation of Starspawn suddenly pulsed.
The organizers of this breakout attempt enacted their Plan B in response to the faltering assault!
”What is happening? ”
”Something is happening with the Starspawn! They ’re breaking apart! ”
”Look at the dead remains! They are becoming active again! ”
Two things happened at the same time.
First, the existing Starspawn all lost cohesion as their strange tissue rebelled against their bodies.
No one knew what went on.
For a moment, the defenders thought that the Starspawn were beginning to self-destruct.
However, the other phenomenon happening at the same time signified that much more was afoot! The carcasses of the Starspawn that the defenders took out began to show activity again as their flesh began to roil and writhe.
Eventually, the active Starspawn tissue began to clump together around the Defiled Gene, engulfing Mr.
Drenad ’s carrier in the middle of an abhorrent ball of alien tissue!
That ball quickly grew in size as more and more Starspawn remains merged into the ball.
Eventually, its shape began to diverge from an egg and took the form of the biggest Starspawn they had ever seen!
The Super Starspawn cracked open its maw and unleashed a silent roar! Even though no sound propagated in the vacuum of space, Eloise nonetheless shuddered at the monstrous sight!
The newly-emerged creature quickly began to tear into the defensive lines of the Silent Nomad military forces! No matter what the defenders threw at the giant creature, the malleable tissue quickly reformed and returned into its original state!
Even as the Insurmountable Drakes and the other outfits gleefully pressed the advantage now that the defenders were forced to confront the giant monster, their sensors began to sound the alarm.
”Starspawn are coming from behind! They ’re being attracted by the battle and the Super Starspawn! ”
Eloise directed her attention to the Valiant Warden
’s sensors as she directed it to pick up another mech wreck to serve as a shield.
She saw to her alarm that hundreds of Starspawn were pouring in from their rear!
Worse, this didn ’t appear to be the extent of the influx as the sensors of her mech kept detecting new Starspawn!
These incoming Starspawn quickly descended on the rear of the Drakes and the other outfits!
”Damnit, these Starspawn aren ’t under control! They ’re attacking every nearby target! ”
Even as the Super Starspawn made good progress in breaking through the defenses of the military forces, the feral Starspawn that emerged from the rear of the attackers wreaked havoc on their mechs and ships!
Their sluggish supply ships were the first to fall! The outfits directed so much attention to the front that they weren
’t able to allocate enough mechs to cover their rear.
Now they paid for it as their remaining supply ships all got taken down in quick succession!
Soon enough, the advancing feral Starspawn were beginning to threaten the mech carriers.
If the Insurmountable Drakes lost all of their ships, then they would lose their chance to escape!
” Eloise yelled as she turned around her space knight.
The Valiant Warden flew back to the Stained Salamander as fast as possible while being burdened by its makeshift shield.
”I must return home! My son is waiting for me! I will not fall here! ”
The strongest surge of emotion that Ves had ever felt swept through Eloise
’s entire mind.
For a single moment, that strong maternal desire of Eloise to be reunited with her son flitted through Ves ’ hiding spot, momentarily disrupting his attempts to stay hidden.
”Drat! I ’m found out! ”
Ves instantly realized that Eloise ’s mind picked up his existence.
Yet before she could confront the strange entity in her mind, something even more alarming took place!
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