As some of the Vandal scouts approached the vicinity of the bunker, a hatch opened up.
The Loquacious Raphael emerged from underneath and returned to the outside world.

Nine honor guard mechs followed in its footsteps.

Four of them consisted of melee bestial mechs.
They all looked like robust tigers with an excellent balance between speed and armor.
Up close, their jaws could crunch mech limbs while their claws could tear apart armor plating.

The rest of them consisted of ranged mechs of various configurations.
All of them were humanoid, and all of them carried an abundant amount of gear.

Over forty mechs stopped at the other end of the path leading up to the bunker.
Their surroundings had turned into a complex landscape of craters and collapsed structures, which made it exceedingly complex to navigate.
Only the former main street offered somewhat flat terrain.

The Loquacious Raphael stepped forward in a dusty but dazzling display.
For some reason, the blue and silver hero mech acquired a white cape that looked dazzling in the midst of ruin.
The mech extended out its sword to the approaching Vandal scout mechs.

”Devils! ” Lord Javier ’s young voice boomed over the broken lands.
”Your evil knows no bounds! To bombard my planet from orbit without any hesitation reveals your cruel nature! If this is what your corrupt Republic has taught you, then you deserve to die! ”

”What? ” Ves asked.
What was Lord Javier going on about?

”Lord Javier. ” Captain Orfan spoke up from her spearman mech.
”Cut the nonsense and obediently surrender.
You are outnumbered eight-to-one, and that ’s only when you count the mechs.
Your tunnels are collapsed and your escape routes are blocked.
There is no chance for you to make it out alive if you choose to fight.
Do the smart thing, and we won ’t have to take this any further than we already have. ”

The Rapheal swung its sword in a theatrical manner.
”Surrender? Never! My people have died under my watch! So long as you Vandals are still alive, my mission is not yet done! Prepare yourselves, villains, for I shall cleanse this star system of Brighter filth! ”

An analyst in the base suddenly stood up from behind his terminal.
”This is bad! Lord Javier is showboating in front of the entire Kingdom! ”

Ves looked over and saw a local news portal commenting on a live feed of Lord Javier ’s speech.

So the man acted sanctimoniously for a reason!

”Cut the feed! Destroy his recorders! ”

”We ’re working on it but there ’s too much! Some of them are extremely well hidden! Without taking over the entire site, we won ’t be able to take them all out! ”

The invasion of the Detemen System had always been broadcasted to the news portals on both sides of the war.
At the beginning, the Bright Republic pounced on the feeds as a way to boost the morale of their citizens who felt weary at hearing about another loss or stalemate.

Though the Mech Corps always treated the Flagrant Vandals like an abandoned son, now that they grabbed the spotlight, they temporarily changed their stance.

The battle at Detemen II and Detemen IV provided a riveting display of their own side.
The people back home relished seeing Vesians getting ground beneath the foot of the Vandals.

As for the Vesians, they had all been juiced up by the initial successes at the outbreak of the war.
The quick invasions and the rapid takeover of the border systems gave them an inflated feeling of confidence.
The war would go different this time, and victory was already in the bag.

This sudden attack on the heartland of the Kingdom not only disabused them of this notion, it also put the seed of fear into their hearts.

If a formerly safe place like the Detemen System could be raided, what about their own home systems? Many Vesians never believed that their star system would be vulnerable to the Mech Corps.
In the previous wars, the Bright Republic almost never struck at the Kingdom, and what few raids they sent almost always struck the Vesian border systems.

Now, the commoners of the Kingdom started to fear that this might change.
If the Flagrant Vandals got away, who could tell they wouldn ’t pull off the same long-ranged assault again?

Strangely enough, looking at Lord Javier spouting justice against the evil Brighters served to allay some of their apprehensions.
With heroes like Lord Javier in charge, the Flagrant Vandals would never go unpunished!

Ves didn ’t know whether he wanted to laugh or cry.
This spoiled, abusive brat with one of the most awful reputation in the Detemen System portrayed himself as a righteous Vesian.
The worst part of it was that almost every news portal in the Kingdom lapped it up.

In fact, they actively promoted him.
Lord Javier ’s face got plastered all over the Vesia Kingdom ’s galactic net, and more and more citizens tuned into the broadcast of the ongoing battle.

Addy walked back to Ves and shook her head.
”This is how the media works in the Kingdom.
Every major news portal is in the hands of the Duchies or the Royals.
They won ’t ever spin this battle as a loss. ”

”Shouldn ’t there be a lot more independent news outlets in the Kingdom? It ’s very hard to block everything on the galactic net.
Besides, there ’s also the larger news outlets that serve entire star sectors or larger, like the Rimward Star Herald. ”

”Hahaha! ” Addy laughed.
”It ’s funny how naive you are something! Don ’t put your trust into both.
The larger news portals aren ’t interested in what they consider to be a minor spat.
As for the so-called independent news portals, nobody ever follows them, because what they report doesn ’t match with the rosy picture that the government-owned outlets publishes. ”

That sounded really strange to Ves.
The Bright Republic exhibited a much less tightly regulated press environment.
Opinions diverged wildly, and it was a challenge to pick the right news portal to believe, but overall the Republic famously touted itself as a state that upheld the torch of human civilization.

Addy noticed his confusion.
”Think of it this way.
When you hear news that you don ’t want to hear, you won ’t feel glad.
Only when you listen to the government-owned media will you feel more comfortable, because you are used to the uplifting news they try to serve you every day. ”

Ves understood her argument, but couldn ’t completely wrap his head around it.
The news was the news.
Sometimes, they publicised something good, but they also had a duty to let the people know of things that didn ’t work very well.

”Ah nevermind. ” The rebel woman sighed and turned to one of the feeds.
”I think Lord Javier is about to end his speech. ”

”…If you will not lay down your arms, we will take you by force! ” Captain Orfan yelled and brandished the spear of her stolen mech.

”If you wish to take away my arms, then come and take them! I can guarantee you that you will never lay your filthy hands on my weapons! ”

”Open Fire! ”

The negotiation broke down and both sides fired off their long-ranged weapons.
The weight of fire on the side of the attackers was like a thunderstorm raining down in the direction of the Raphael and its honor guard.
Scores of laser beams and projectiles forced them to dodge and crawl to the sides.

The hovertanks floating in the rear provided a lot of long-ranged fire support.
While their fire wasn ’t very accurate, whenever they hit, they dealt as much damage as a mech cannon.

As for the defenders, the ranged mechs all fired as they ran.
The quality of their rifles surpassed those of their adversaries.
The mechs used by the Vandals also fell short in terms of quality.
In fact, their larger numbers and the cramped terrain made it easier for the Raphael and its buddy mechs to land some hits.

The Raphael zigged and zagged as it charged up its fake resonance.
The rifle arm glowed like a rainbow, and adjusted the aim of its one-handed ballistic rifle.
”Rainbow Shell! ”

A glowing shell fired from the rifle and rapidly cut the air until it impacted on a Vandal light mech.
The shell exploded in a gout of rainbow fury, and the blast was at least twice as powerful as the regular shells that wrecked the hovertanks with a single hit.

The light mech hadn ’t survived! Its cockpit belatedly launched into the air, but the rest of the mech was almost a total loss.
The resonance-enhanced shell had managed to break the light mech ’s thin torso armor and inflict crippling damage to its internals.

”Hahaha! None of your mechs stand a chance against my Loquacious Raphael! Take this! Rainbow Shell! ”

Another charged shell spat out from the muzzle of the glowing rifle.
The shell impacted a medium mech this time and fractured a lot of armor.
The Vandal mech survived the impact, but looked a lot worse off.
It wouldn ’t be able to handle another round!

”Tch! You ’re lucky your vital components hadn ’t gotten hit, but your luck won ’t last! Rainbow Shell! ”

This time, Lord Javier aimed at the approaching form of Captain Orfan ’s spearman mech.
The captain possessed much better reflexes and battle awareness, so she already started dodging her mech as soon as the noble called out the name of his attack.

There was no reason for Javier to call out his special techniques! In his time with the Vandals, Ves heard a lot of stories about resonance.
One of them was that evoking this phenomenon in the heat of battle could be exceedingly hard, because the mech pilot needed to be at their best and put forth all of their concentration into achieving heir desired outcome.

By putting a name on a specific resonance pattern and saying it out loud whenever they engaged it, mech pilots came to resort to this method as a crutch.

Over time, whenever they said the name of their technique, they would unconsciously facilitate the activation of the resonance profile that they desired to unleash.

Still, even if saying the names out loud helped a bit, there was no reason for Lord Javier to keep his broadcasting speakers on! It was as if he was acting like the main character of an action drama!

Eventually, the exchange of fire died down when the Raphael and the honor guard dove into the complex terrain around them.
”Catch me if you can! ”

”Surround this site and track him down! He won ’t be able to get very far! ”

The battle progressed to another stage as both sides dove into the ruined landscape.
Due to the extreme terrain, ranged mechs lost most of their advantages.
The narrow corridors and abundant hills heavily favored melee mechs.

Ves looked on from a bug positioned above, and caught a glimpse of the Raphael darting forward to one of the Vandal mechs.
Due to a lack of space in the immediate environment, the Vandal mechs had been forced to march in a single column.
This allowed the Raphael to face it without any interference from the other Vandal mechs.

”Twin Star Slash! ”

The Raphael ’s sword didn ’t glow or exhibit any remarkable effects, but the manner in which Lord Javier controlled his mech was something else.
The arm rapidly flicked back and forth in a rapid sequence of movements.
While their penetration power left much to be desired, the so-called Twin Star Slash had somehow manage to cut off the hands of the Vandal mech in front.

”Twin Star Helix! ”

The Raphael ’s hand rotated around itself as it stabbed forth its sword.
The completely useless drilling motion actually made it harder to penetrate the armor of the Vandal mech, but once it dug in with the help of the Raphael ’s weight, it started to inflict a load of damage.

The Vandal pilot panicked and ejected in reflex.
The cockpit almost bumped against the head of the friendly mech standing behind it as it made its way out of the site.

”Next! ” Javier called out with a laugh.
He was enjoying this!

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