the Blackbeak away and left another dangerous rent in the Sliverath ’s chest.
Raella ’s reflexes saved her mech again, if barely.

”Go away! ”

”Screw you, doghead! I ’m taking this bastard down! ”

Both Raella and Fadah found themselves in a tentative uncoordinated dance against the indomitable Takeru.
His dragon mech ’s specs exceeded the Blackbeak by a fair margin, though it still ran on energy cells so it was vulnerable to the same risks as the other machines that ran on the same source of energy.

This enabled the pair to exploit this weakness by constantly threatening to attack the rear of the dragon mech.
Even if Takeru didn ’t think much of Raella, he still had to shift his attention to deflect her latest probe.

Dietrich tried to lend a hand but he never got a clear line of sight.
The pirates had finally gotten their act together and sent out additional mechs to shore up the first wave of melee mechs.

Despite the precautions taken by the Blood Claws, mechs continued to explode in a disturbingly regular interval.
Kanaan had largely lost control over his men as everyone fought for themselves.

Only the ranged mechs maintained some sense of order as they coordinated their attacks on isolated enemies.
They didn ’t dare fire their weapons into the middle of the grand melee for fear of setting off a chain reaction.

Unfortunately, the pirates didn ’t hold as much scruples and constantly tried to aggravate the situation.
This in turn forced the Blood Claws to allocate all of their ranged mechs to suppression duty.
The pirate marksmen shouldn ’t be allowed to set off any energy cells with impunity.

Takeru ’s dragon mech suffered a few more nicks and scratches after a minute of back and forth.
Despite being outnumbered, the pirate elite possessed enough skill to fend off both of its opponents at once.

”Hahahaha! Amateurs! Both your blades are dull! Without tempering your skill through life-and-death battles, how can you call yourself a mech pilot! ”

”Shut up you criminal! ” Raella roared as she pushed her anger into her damaged mech, willing it to slide the knife in the waist of the dragon mech.
She completely forgot about the precarious risk of setting off an energy cell.

The pirate mech spun away in the nick of time.
Takeru even left another sword mark on the Blackbeak ’s chest armor.

Fortunately, the Veltrex armor system held up decently well against the power of the dragon mech ’s sword strikes.
For all of its speed and elegance, it relied mostly on technique and momentum for its bite.
By pressuring Takeru from two directions, they prevented him from building up sufficient momentum for a heavy blow.

Fadah gained more confidence and started to regain some of the initiative.
He didn ’t allow his opponent to wind up for one of his endless flurry of blows by making frequent but shallow attacks.
He even struck with the edge of his phoenix shield to knock the dragon mech out of balance.

Takeru ’s mech started to suffer.
Even Raella managed to sneak some superficial stabs in between the pirate ’s occupation with the Blackbeak.
Takeru had to devote more and more attention to fending off Fadah ’s frequent attacks.

At some point, Fadah felt something deep within him echo with the Blackbeak he piloted.
Their connection somehow crystallized in a deeper form of synchronization.
The line between man and machine started to blur, but only for an instant.

Fadah made his move in that brief window of opportunity.

The Blackbeak surged forth at the swordsman mech ’s left flank.
Takeru released a windmill chop that would have forced the Blackbeak to block with its shield.
Instead of taking the chop head-on, Fadah angled the shield in a way that put the brunt of the force on the rim of the shield.

This gave his Blackbeak enough of a push to swivel around and put more strength into its stab.
Fadah ’s sword sunk into the dragon mech ’s joints.
The thin, flexible plates of compressed armor only blunted half of the force in the stab.
The remaining power proved to be sufficient to disable the joint between the arm and the shoulder.

”NO! ”

Takeru ’s mech lost a significant amount of threat after Fadah succeeded in disabling one of its arm.
Even though the dragon mech continued to put up a good fight with one arm, the mech obviously lacked a lot of power compared to before.

This allowed Fadah to be more unscrupulous with his attacks.
The Blackbeak ’s sword and shield started to hammer the tough exterior of the dragon mech.
In contrast, Takeru could barely bite into the Blackbeak ’s Veltrex armor with his feeble sword strikes.

It didn ’t help that Fadah decided to stick his mech close to his opponent ’s machine.
The shortened distance proved ideal for the Blackbeak to attack with its one-handed sword.

The dragon mech meanwhile couldn ’t leverage enough distance to enable its longer sword to exert its full power.


The swordsman mech shuddered as Fadah shaved off an important armor plate from the dragon ’s mech chest.
Its internals became exposed.


At the same time, Raella took advantage of Takeru ’s shock by stabbing the Sliverath ’s sole knife into the shoulder blade of the dragon ’s mechs sole functioning arm.
While her knife didn ’t manage to cripple the arm, the damage it inflicted had severed a couple of minor systems, which reduced the pirate mech ’s responsiveness.

”I will not fall on this cursed planet! ”

”Oh shut up you pirate! ”

Both Raella and Fadah went for the killing blow.
The Blackbeak locked the dragon mech ’s sword with its shield while ramming the tip of its sword into the exposed chest of its opponent.
Raella meanwhile positioned the Sliverath low to the ground and sunk the knife into the dragon mech ’s knee.

Takeru ’s mech lost its footing and much of its power.
It fell down onto face.

”Get away! ” Dietrich yelled.
He ’d always been keeping an eye on their duel as he fired his laser rifle in support of other Blood Claws.
”He ’s going to blow! ”

Both mechs retreated in an instant, already bracing themselves for the inevitable blow.

Yet instead of an explosion, the dragon mech ’s cockpit ejected from the rear.
Its powerful short-ranged boosters took away Takeru away from the battle and back to the besieged pirate encampment.

”Damnit! He got away! ”

Even though the escape spoiled some of the glory, Raella still felt good about winning against her first formidable opponent.
She didn ’t mind too much that she needed help.

”Thanks for the help, dude.
Let ’s go clean up the rest. ”

The fall of an influential pirate elite rippled throughout the rest of the pirate faction.
Despite their fanaticism, the rest of the pirates couldn ’t withstand the determined Blood Claws.

Even the command squad from the Dragons of the Void suffered casualties and Raella and Fadah teamed up to dismantle them one by one.
This time, they didn ’t let their pilots eject.
They both aimed to take out the cockpit from the start.

After half an hour of intensive battle, the Blood Claws won the melee, though it cost them half of their melee mechs.

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