The status of the Bright Martyr became considerably contentious after his arrival and departure in the Ylvaine Protectorate.

Some believed he was a charlatan.
Others couldn ’t get over the fact that a foreigner became the next martyr.
The upper ranks of the leading dynasties did their best to temper everyone ’s worship of the Bright Martyr.
They became fearful of what might ensue if their flock demanded a new shepherd.

Though the three leading dynasties managed to reduce most mentions and calls to revere the Bright Martyr in the media, it had already gone out of control.

Practically every Ylvainan became aware of the Bright Maryr ’s existence, and his rise was the most exciting incident to happen in the last four-hundred years since the founding of the Protectorate.

Unless they relied on more coercive measures, there was no conceivable way to erase the name of the Bright Martyr from the lips of the Ylvainans.

Having been raised from birth to worship the Great Prophet and his handpicked martyred followers, the rise of a new martyr became an unquestionably alluring focus of their devotion!

”Prophet Ylvaine has never left us! Look at the Bright Martyr! His appearance is proof that the prophet is still with us! Just look at his works and you will know the truth! ”

While the Poxco Dynasty made numerous proposals to enact such measures, the Curin Dynasty always opposed the Attendants of Ylvaine.

Even the Kronon Dynasty refused to entertain such means.
As the Protectors of the Flock, it had always been their duty to protect the Ylvainans.
They were not about to allow anyone to harm them in such fashion!

The belief in the Bright Martyr therefore managed to spread among the lower classes of the Protectorate without too much hindrance.
It became so expected that others shared in this belief that those who were skeptical stuck out like sore thumbs!

”What do you mean you think the Bright Martyr is fake? That ’s absurd! You ’re no longer my friend if you believe in this slander! ”

One of the most influential factors that reinforced everyone ’s worship of the Bright Martyr was the existence of the Transcendent Messengers.
Anyone who witnessed the divinely-inspired hero mechs in person unquestionably believed that the Bright Martyr had been touched by the Great Prophet!

Even the middle and upper ranks of the leading dynasties started to become swayed! The more faith they possessed, the more the Transcendent Messenger demanded their acknowledgement!

The Ylvaine Protectorate slowly but surely started to change.
Among the many societal changes and reforms, the Kronon Dynasty began to shift their stodgy traditions as well.

Having stagnated for so long, the Bright Martyr ’s rebuke prodded them into action.
Military officers became more daring and started to act with more autonomy.

Outfitting some of their mech regiments with mechs from the LMC had been among their more presumptuous actions! Since when did a mech military resort to commercial mechs to fill up their mech roster?

Yet how could the critics rebuke the officers who made the decision to outfit their units with LMC mechs? Wouldn ’t that be affronting the Bright Martyr? Any word against the LMC mechs earned near-universal condemnation from the lower ranks of the Kronon Dynasty!

Having basked in the auras of so many mechs of the Bright Martyr, the Kronon mech pilots became fully convinced that their machines were special!

After a lot of internal turmoil, the Kronons from both sides reached a tentative compromise.

”The proof is in the pudding.
Let us see the LMC mechs in action.
Only a success in battle will those who support adopting these commercial mechs be vindicated! ”

The adoption of LMC mechs occurred sporadically as only the most enthusiastic believers in the Bright Martyr embraced them at a wider scale.
The mech pilots and mech officers who worked with the LMC mechs happened to have the most to prove in their first major action!

Their fervor to battle and win against the Star Worshippers was among the highest in the six raiding fleets!

This was the first time so many Blackbeaks, Crystal Lords and Aurora Titans had been deployed at once.
Spread over six different strategic star systems in the territory of the Star Faith Collective, the initial stages of the incursions proceeded better than expected.

The Ylvaine Protectorate managed to hoodwink the Star Faith Collective and surprise them with their sudden assaults.

Yet as time went by and the Protectors of the Faith managed to land their ground forces on the surface of the fortified planets, the Star Army finished readjusting themselves.

The Ylvainans weren ’t the only people around who could whip up their men in religious frenzy!

Aware that the future of the Star Faith was at stake, the Star Worshippers ceased to be consumed by shock and began to ready their ground defenses!

”Crush the alien lovers! ”

”The Ylvainans worship alien gods! Let us show them how little their gods care about their lives! ”

On Creinze IV, a lot of infrastructure dispersed throughout the planet started to get overwhelmed or destroyed.
However, the Star Worshippers concentrated most of their assets and vital infrastructure at Halifax Base.

The Star Army already gave up on defending the outlying facilities in favor of consolidating their mechs at Halifax Base.

Half underground and half aboveground, it took an immense effort to establish this base.
The Ylvainans would never be able to destroy it by sitting back and letting their artillery mechs bombard the base from a distance.

”The only way to destroy Halifax Base and render the Creinze System useless as a staging point for the Star Army is to get up close! ”

The Protectors of the Flock only had a limited amount of time to do their damage.
They never intended to invade and occupy the star systems of their foes.
With the sandmen breathing down their necks, they simply couldn ’t afford to fight on two fronts.

For this reason, speed was of the essence.
The Ylvainan mech pilots deployed on Creinze IV did not enjoy a significant numerical advantage, so they had to rely on other factors to overwhelm the entrenched Star Worshippers.

Though the surprise factor had already faded, the Star Army had still been caught with their pants down.
Many assets were still stored in containers piled up in warehouses, as the STar Army always expected that they would be the ones to make the first move.

The base commander of Halifax Base had never taken into account that the Ylvainans would be crazy enough to take the fight to them! Now, every Star Worshipper frantically started to deploy as many mobile and immobile assets as they could to reinforce the defenses of Halifax Base.

”We won ’t give you that time! Attack! Storm their fortifications! ”

More than a dozen landbound mech regiments spread out and advanced towards an immense walled fort city shaped like a stylized star.
Halifax Base was more than a city and more than a military base.

It concentrated the might of the Star Army and represented their people ’s hopes of conquering the stars!

”The stars are lifeless balls of plasma. ” Taon Melin scoffed as he piloted Zeal in the middle of the largest concentration advancing Kronon mechs.
”Only life deserves worship! ”

A momentous aura of zeal and faith washed over his fellow Kronon mech pilots.
As long as they stayed within range, their fervor and motivation to fight on behalf of the Protectorate and the Ylvainan Faith reached astronomic levels!

The mechs under the influence of Zeal advanced considerably faster towards Halifax Base, as if they were the most eager among the Ylvainan ground forces to prove their devotion!

Already, artillery mechs and ranged mechs started to fire at the huge walls and the mechs hiding behind them.
Numerous stationary turrets spat out deathly fire, but they served little more than a distraction.

”The walls of Halix Base lie before us! ” Taon transmitted to all of the ground forces.
”Our victory is ordained from the moment we have crossed into the Collective ’s territory.
Let us herald the ascendancy of our faith by crushing the Star Army ’s ambition! ”

Though his military rank wasn ’t high, his status as Zeal ’s chosen transcended the hierarchy of the Kronon Dynasty! When the chosen spoke up, every Ylvainan listened!

”Follow your orders and advance! Know that victory is assured as long as you hold the Great Prophet in your heart! Ylvaine shall prevail! ”


Every Kronon mech advanced towards Halifax Base, forcing them to endure a prodigious sea of fire!

Thousands of defending mechs and turrets fired at the approaching Ylvainans, taking full advantage of the fortifications in place!

Over the air, Kronon aerial mechs tried their best to bombard the fortification from above, but the Star Army ’s aerial mechs successfully kept them entangled.

Fighting far beyond the range of any LMC mech, the aerial duels taking place above entered into a stalemate.
Neither side was willing to take too many risks.

In contrast, the assault on the ground had become a lot more heated.
Affected by Zeal, hundreds of mechs stormed forward with little regard for their lives!

Among the vanguard, the Blackbeaks led the charge! When entire mech companies consisted solely of this offensive knight model, the sheer amount of overlapping auras affected the mindsets of every mech pilot to a much greater degree than anyone anticipated.

Not just the mech pilots of the Blackbeaks, but also the mech pilots of the machines following behind them became swept up with a desire to close in on their enemies!

”Burn the Star Worshippers to ash! Let us show them what happens when they embrace their stars! ”

The Blackbeaks possessed enough armor to withstand most of the defensive firepower pouring in their direction.
They also moved fast enough to give the defenders little time to take potshots!

As offensive knights, the Blackbeaks were never designed to sit back and act as mobile shields for vulnerable ranged mechs.

The Blackbeaks performed best when they were put to their intended use, which was leading the charge towards the enemy!

A metaphorical collision occurred once the Blackbeaks reached the fortification.
Despite the storm of fire pouring in their direction, their Veltrex Armor System held up admirably as it was not inferior to the armor system used by military mechs.

Other mechs, specialized for demolition, moved in and started to breach the tall walls using various means!

”We ’re in! Gogogo! ”

Though many Blackbeaks already sustained severe damage, they succeeded in their primary goal! As the Ylvainans poured into the interior of Halifax Base, the more intact Blackbeaks kept fulfilling their functions by moving forward!

Halifax Base was both a city and a military base, so the fighting had just as far as both sides were concerned.

Nonetheless, propelled by Zeal, the Kronon ground forces continually poured through the breaches while pushing back the Star Army!

Despite the latter ’s defensive advantages, the differences in fighting will proved to be more decisive than the Star Army thought!

This was because just as Zeal ’s massive aura motivated the Ylvainans to fanaticism, it also pressed down on the hearts of the Star Worshippers within range!

Everytime a unit of the Star Army became affected by Zeal, the mech pilots became a little less confident, a little less certain and a little less convinced!

Some even started questioning their faith in the middle of an intensive firefight! Oftentimes, such distractions proved fatal!

In the complex urban environment of Halifax Base, the Crystal Lords began to shine.

These domineering, uncharacteristically resilient laser rifleman mechs danced in the streets and gunned down each and every mech in their way!

Their auras blended together and expanded across other friendly mechs, infecting them with the desire to defeat every enemy mech in order to prove their dominance!

”Our Crystal Lords are the kings of this battlefield! No other mech can withstand our fury of lasers! ”

Just as in the case of Zeal, the overlapping auras of the Blackbeaks and the Crystal Lords depressed the morale of the enemy mech pilots by a small but very noticeable margin.

Not a single Star Worshipper within range felt comfortable as they resisted the Ylvainans!

With the attackers emboldened and the defenders quaking in their boots, resistance fell much easier than even the most optimistic Kronon strategists anticipated! The Star Army continually gave ground and more and more districts of Halifax Base started to fall under enemy occupation!

Taon Melin witnessed all of this at the center of the action.
Zeal moved forward with implacable momentum.
So long as Zeal was with the Kronons, they would never stop their advance!

Of course, the Star Army wasn ’t stupid.
They studied their opponents well enough to realize the significance of Zeal!

Zeal stepped to the right just half a second before an extremely powerful laser beam burned through its former location!

”Expert mech! ”

Just as the Starrer expert mech adjusted its aim, it suddenly rolled to the side as a powerful kinetic shell smashed the reinforced building it was hiding behind!

”Your opponent is me! ” A Kronon expert mech stepped from the side.

As a national treasure, Zeal enjoyed the highest degree of protection!

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