ssed armor with each shot.

Ghanso took a deep breath and focused on landing his second shot.
Once he pulled the trigger, his beam missed again, but only by five meters this time.

”So close! ”

He made the right prediction this time, but his mech failed to keep its rifle steady.
His nerves grew increasingly frayed as he checked the heat levels of his rifle.

He specifically applied to wield this model.
It boasted a vastly higher maximum output capacity at the cost of generating an extreme amount of heat.
His rifle could only take three more shots before it automatically entered a forced cooldown cycle.

”I ’ve got three more chances. ” Ghanso gritted his teeth and aimed again.
This time, he didn ’t take as long to draw a bead as he grew increasingly familiar with the light mech ’s movement patterns.

This time, a sharp red beam emerged from his rifle and managed to score a glancing blow at the light mech ’s left foot.

It barely scorched the armor.
The expert pilot basically ignored Ghanso ’s attack and kept focusing on decimating his nearby opponents.

”Don ’t ignore me! ” Ghanso uttered and fired off another shot propelled by his anger.

Whether he lucked out or not, the second beam impacted the railings of the light mech ’s flight systems.
The mech instantly ceased its attack run and whirled away its sword into a different direction.

The sword top pointed straight at Ghanso, as if the pilot had marked him for death.
With a blast, the light mech entered into its high-speed mode straight towards Ghanso ’s Vhedra in a comet-like approach.

The expert came for Ghanso ’s head!

”Even as his squad leader yelled at him to eject, Ghanso kept his mech in place and aimed his almost-overheated rifle at the incoming comet.
His eyes twitched as he cast his mind completely into his mech.

He stroked the mental trigger of his rifle, spitting out one, final beam.

Though the light mech barrel rolled aside at the last moment, Ghanso incredibly predicted the expert ’s split-second movement and struck the light mech ’s face head-on with a high-powered laser.

This time, the expert mech suffered a substantial blow, as its head enjoyed much less armor than its other parts.
Even though the damage was largely cosmetic, Ghanso had literally slapped the expert mech ’s face.

The uber-fast light mech bayed for his blood.

Ghanso knew he pissed off the light mech for sure.
He switched off all of his communication channels, which stopped the incessant calls to eject.
”It ’s useless to eject.
He ’ll chase after my cockpit and slice it apart. ”

In effect, he cut off his own escape route.
He was fine with that.
As the light mech neared his position, he grew increasingly excited.
His warrior ’s blood called to him to meet the swordsman mech in earnest.

The Vhedra mech threw away its useless overheated rifle and let it drift away in space.
Instead, it pulled out one single backup knife from its sheath.

The cheap, standard-alloy knife looked pitiful compared to the majestic sword in the light mech ’s hands.
Ghanso ’s knife incorporated just enough low-quality exotic to hold up against compressed armor, if barely.

”I ’ll have to aim for its weak points.
Stabbing its chest or back is useless. ”

Ghanso ignored the ridiculous thought of fending off an expert swordsman mech with an ordinary knife.
Even as his death had become a near-certainty, his overwhelming hatred against the foreign expert reached a blinding height.

As the light mech rapidly surged towards the Vhedra, Ghanso closed his eyes and opened them to reveal his burning conviction.

”For the Republic! ”

His weak Vhedra mech surged forth.
Everything about his spaceborn mech had been optimized for ranged combat.
His mech ’s own sluggishness provided an incredibly sharp contrast against the incoming light mech that was seconds away from slicing it in half.

”Come on! I can take you on! ”

At the final second, just as Ghanso secretly resigned himself to death, a blazing hot jet of flames passed over his Vhedra ’s head.
The light mech had barreled straight towards Ghanso ’s mech with its full momentum pressing forward.

Even though it rolled aside at the very last moment, half of the mech suffered heavy burns from the extremely jet of flames.

Ghanso ’s communicator suddenly surged to life.
An external override had forcibly connected it to a private channel.
”You did good, kid, but that ’s no reason to throw away your life.
Pull back and rejoin your squad.
Leave the rest to me. ”

An orange striker mech flew past the paralyzed Vhedra ’s position and began to chase the alarmed enemy swordsman mech.

As a bona fide soldier of the Mech Corps, Ghanso knew each and every expert pilot by name and mech.
He recognized the orange striker as the characteristic Fire Worm.

Venerable Stanton Drake had saved his life!

Just as Ghanso came to terms with that fact, his attention turned to the battle at hand.
Two other expert mechs had joined Venerable Drake in occupying the enemy expert mechs.
At this stage, any help from the Volari Starhawks did more harm than good, as they could easily hit their own experts as they engaged in close-quarters combat with the enemy elites.

Therefore, Ghanso and the rest received orders to disengage from the sphere formation and rejoin the larger battle against the hordes of regular pirates.

As Ghanso unwillingly turned the Vhedra away, he kept glancing over to the duel between Venerable Drake and the enemy swordsman mech.

It was no contest, really.
Striker mechs always countered melee mechs.
This basic rule held true on land as much as in space.
Every time the expert light mech tried to approach the Fire Worm, Venerable Drake spat out another deadly jet of highly potent flames.

The light mech lacked the capacity to suffer many blows from the intense heat.
Its inability to take the flames head on constrained the expert mech to such an extent it had turned into a whipped dog.

Even as the light mech tried to disengage from the striker, the Fire Worm aggressively chased after the foreign mech.

The wide area of its jets of flames gave the light mech a lot of grief.
Unlike a laser beam which only required a minor bump to dodge, the wider flames forced it to go through extreme lengths to escape its area of effect.

As Ghanso came off his high, he shook his head in disappointment.
The light mech still possessed the edge in speed, so it would likely be able to shrug off the Fire Worm eventually.

Experts rarely perished in battle.

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