s had completely turned into sideshow characters at this moment.

The lifter platform reached at an elaborate open tribune.
Despite its size, only two seats had been placed at the center.
Michael Dumont already sat at the seat to the left, leaving Ves to take the one on the right.

”Ves. ”

”Michael. ”

They didn ’t exchange any other words.
At this point, no amount of talk would change anything.
Both of them let the minutes tick by in silence until arena finished its reorganization of the dueling grounds.

It was a wonder to witness how effortlessly the battleground morphed from a plain tiled surface to a decent imitation of a rocky canyon.
Large amounts of rocks, cliffs and other debris carted in from below and cluttered up the field until it became impossible to see the other end of the arena from ground level.

Once the arena finished its rearrangement, the mechs started to appear.

”First to enter the stage is Michael Dumont ’s Havalax! Coated in resplendent white, this offensive knight can run as hard as it can hit! While it possesses a decent set of armor, the Havalax excels in hacking down its opposition through unrelenting aggression! Armed with both a sword and a handaxe, the Havalax has a plethora of offensive options to dismantle anything in its way! ”

A projection of the mech pilot appeared over the sky.
Ves took one look at the man ’s uniform before his face began to fall.

”Piloting the Havalax on behalf of Dumont is Captain Jaimie Vicar! Captain Vicar is one of the greatest talents to emerge from the Republic in recent times, and he has won a number of prestigious awards before the Mech Corps snapped him up! Nowadays, he leads his own unit as the youngest captain in our homegrown 3rd Infernal Hellhounds Regiment! ”

Captain Vicar ’s handsome face and curvy blond hair made him a hit among the ladies, who all started to shriek like they lost all of their intelligence.
Ves didn ’t care about that, but he did grow worried about Vicar ’s capabilities.

The Mech Corps held themselves to a higher standard than the Planetary Guard.
They recruited the best of the best and anyone who reached the rank of captain at such a young age must be someone with a lot of promise.
At the very least, the Mech Corps must be feeling hopeful that Captain Vicar had a decent chance of advancing to expert pilot someday.

The Blackbeak appeared next.
Unlike the Havalax, the Blackbeak ’s strong X-Factor and dark appearance caused the crowd to grow a little muted.
Even though they saw a couple of projections of the models in ads and promotions, it was different now that they encountered it in person.

”Emerging from beneath is the inventively-named Blackbeak! It ’s an offensive knight that ’s made for war! Featuring top-notch endurance and a running time that lasts for days, it ’s the perfect mech to deploy if you wish to drive the Vesians mad! Mr.
Larkinson has promised that the Blackbeak is a mech that will grow with its pilot and is able to last an entire war.
Hyperbole or not, the Blackbeak makes for a striking sight! ”

Compared to Vicar ’s enthusiastic reception, the crowd reacted with considerable less attention when Melinda began to be profiled.
The announcers briefly went over the highlights of her career, which wasn ’t much considering she spent much of her time in training or walking the beat in a rather boring law enforcement mech.
Still, no matter how plain her biography looked, it didn ’t detract from the sheer amount of time and effort Melinda put into her training.

The two mechs approached the center of the complex battlefield until they were ten seconds apart.
Formal duels of this nature mandated that the mechs had to be within line of sight from the start.

A number of inspection bots bearing the logo of the MTA started to scour the battlefield and the mechs.
The delegation from the MTA occupied a different platform just above the heads of Ves and Dumont.
Even though the projections didn ’t introduce them in any way, their presence was very much felt due to their reputation alone.

The bots cleared the arena once they failed to detect any signs of foul play.

”Let the duel commence in ten seconds! ”

A timer counted down from ten.

Ves gripped the handholds of his seat.
It felt frustrating to sit so far away while parading out his favorite niece to fight in his stead.
He knew how dangerous a dual could turn out.
Even though a duel between knights rarely led to fatalities due to their considerable defensive prowess, a single stab of a sword could puncture right through a cockpit if the chest armor had been weakened.

”Please don ’t go too far, Melinda.
Just endure the opening moves.
Don ’t try anything fancy. ”

The countdown ticked down to zero, and the duel officially commenced!

”FOR THE HELLHOUNDS! ” The Havalax ’s speakers broadcasted in the air.
The white mech immediately sprinted forward with its kite shield up in front.
It aimed to close the gap to the Blackbeak with its superior speed.

Melinda kept her cool.
She knew the Blackbeak couldn ’t run as fast as the Havalax, but she ran anyway in order to force her opponent to burn through its energy cells.
The more the Havalax expended its power, the sooner its reserves ran out.

n response, the Havalax started to overload its systems, putting a lot of strain on them in exchange for a momentary surge.
Captain Vicar decided to start the engagement with an axe, having sheathed the sword behind the Havalax ’s back.

Once his mech reached the lagging Blackbeak, it began to bash with its shield while simultaneously chopping its target from above.

The Blackbeak turned at the last moment and absorbed the shield bash with its own moon-shaped shield.
As for the axe strike, it only managed to put up a hasty guard with its sword, which clearly didn ’t fare well against the power behind the offensive weapon.

The Blackbeak ’s sword arm strained to absorb the impact, allowing the Havalax to slip in a low kick that destabilized the black mech ’s footing.
This opened up the Blackbeak to another attack!

Melinda immediately faced a crisis!

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