The battle between the two sides went badly for the Vandals and the rebels.
They lost a third of their total forces without downing a single enemy mech.
The disparity in mech quality proved to be the decisive factor keeping Lord Javier aloft.

While the Loquacious Raphael attracted a lot of attention and firepower, its excellent armor and generous energy reserves allowed the mech to sustain itself in battle without declining in performance.
Constantine Reeve deliberately designed the Raphael as a hero mech that uplifted its allies through perseverance.

Ves understood the Senior Mech Designer ’s intentions.
”The Raphael leads by example.
It excels in chaotic battlefields and lengthy campaigns.
Its dependence on a sword and a ballistic rifle allows it to ration its energy consumption and relegate heat management to a distant concern. ”

As a mech designer whose only original designs echoed similar principles, Ves appreciated Mr.
Reeve ’s design choices for the Raphael.

Much like the Blackbeak and the Crystal Lord, the Raphael could keep on fighting for a very long time.

Unlike the two regular designs, the highly advanced Raphael enjoyed some of the best designs and materials the Vesia Kingdom had to offer.
This enabled the mech ’s performance curve to stay at a very high base level, to the point where it wouldn ’t lose out to peak-performance mechs meant to unleash all of their might in a brief interval.

”This is the power of money. ”

When it came to mechs, you often got what you paid for.
While mech buyers did often purchase a premium based on subjective qualities such as brand and current trends, every mech charged a price based on the quality of its materials and the quality of their designs.

This was bad news for the Vandals that clashed head-on against the Raphael, because none of their looted or refurbished Vesian mechs appeared to be premium mechs.
Ves loosely estimated that the average value of their mechs didn ’t surpass 30 million credits.

Though their robust training and inclusion of some military-grade technologies narrowed the gap, it still left a wide gulf between the Vandals and the Raphael.

Nonetheless, the story was slightly different with the honor guard mechs.
Though they lasted for an admirable amount of time, they hadn ’t been built to withstand long sieges.

Ves recognized that they ’d been designed by someone else, and had been tasked with meeting very different criteria.

What was a honor guard mech?

”They need to guard their charges from sudden threats. ”

These threats often approached covertly and sprung their attack within a split-second.
This was why the honor guard mechs all possessed excellent close-ranged sensors.
Right now, the honor guard mechs utilized this trait to their advantage by forestalling every flanking attempts made by the Vandals.

Pervasive jamming along with all the interference released in the air from the meteorite impacts reduced the reliability of sensors in the vicinity.
Even the observation bugs that relayed live footage of the battle to the rebel base glitched out or lagged a number of times.

The cheaper Vesian-built mechs piloted by the Vandals would sometimes be as blind as a bat, and needed to rely on those same observation bugs to pin down the locations of their adversaries.
This took too much time, and the enemy often responded well before the Vandals completed their latest maneuvers.

The second advantage turned out to be a double-edged sword for the honor guard mechs.
Designed to fend off assassin mechs as quickly as possible, their performance curve was a lot steeper.
They could deliver a formidable amount of combat power in the first twenty minutes or so of combat.

This served them well as they miraculously avoided any losses so far.
While a few honor guard mechs got beaten up a bit, none of them lost any major functionality.

However, their energy reserves obviously expended at a much faster rate, or better said, they didn ’t possess as much reserves as the Raphael.
In ten minutes or less, they would quickly run out of steam.

The only problem was that they might taken a dozen or more Vandal mechs out of the equation in the meantime.
Therefore, the attackers couldn ’t afford to drag out the fight until the honor guard mechs exhausted themselves.

”Reinforcements are also on the way. ”

Overall, fewer Vesian mechs remained in Neron City, yet the ones that lasted up until now still fought on their home ground.
They utilized secret tunnels and other means to rapidly convey themselves across the battlefield.
The first wave of reinforcements shouldn ’t take much more than five minutes to arrive.

The Loquacious Raphael and the honor guard mechs needed to be taken care of by that time, or else the attackers had to divide their attention on two fronts.

”Are you certain the Raphael has expended most of its ammunition? ” Addy carefully asked Ves in the rebel base.

Ves nodded with confidence.
”I ’ve counted every shot.
From the size of the magazines, to the diameter of the muzzle, I ’ve made a pretty good estimate on how many shells the Raphael is carrying.
His backpack module is a smaller and lighter variant, which prevents it from being a hindrance to the custom mech, but it also limits the amount of magazines it can store. ”

And now that the artificial meteorites crumbled all the tunnels and weapon caches, the Raphael wouldn ’t be able to replenish its supplies anywhere.

The plan Addy proposed sounded fairly risky, as they only had a single shot to make it happen.
If the sacrifices failed to achieve the desired effect, then Lord Javier and his escorts might even be able to turn the battle around.

They could not let him get away!

Ves, Addy and the rest only spent a brief minute to refine their proposal before she contacted Commander Breskin and filled him in.
Time was of the essence so they needed to make a quick decision.

The rebel leader responded in a decisive tone.
”We ’ll do it.
Help coordinate the hovertanks.
Their trajectories need to be precise. ”

Both the mobile command center near the field of battle and the underground base worked in unison to prepare the hovertanks.
After another minute of preparation, they readied every element for this plan.

A silent countdown reached its mark.
Breskin immediately slammed a button.
”Execute! ”

The mobile command center sent a signal to the seventeen or so hovertanks that still remained aloft.
The signal activated the autopilot of the tanks, causing them to thrust forward at their maximum acceleration.
They moved forth so fast that their hulls even started heating up.

Anyone familiar with hovertanks could see that they exceeded their maximum safe capacity.
If this went on for more than a couple of minutes, the tanks would eventually melt down or explode.
In any case, the damage it already sustained had already ruined the vehicles.

Down at the ruined section of Neron City, the Flagrant Vandals valiantly persisted in fighting against the Raphael and its escorts.
They even managed to cripple one of the tiger mech ’s forelimbs, causing its mobility and offensive ability to be truncated by a significant margin.

”We can do it! Just hold on! ” Captain Orfan urged in her heavily-damaged spearman mech.
She had just been filled in on the plan and approved of it wholeheartedly.
”Kenneth, switch with Jessie, she won ’t hold out much longer against the bastard! ”

A very frayed skirmisher mech retreated against the Raphael, allowing a sturdy knight to take its place.
It was the last intact knight that the Vandals could bring to bear at this time.
They had kept their precious knight mech in reserve until now.

The movements of the hovertanks couldn ’t be hidden from anyone.
The Raphael simultaneously parried a sword strike with its own sword while bringing its rifle to its back to deposit another magazine.
Alarms blared inside the cockpit of the elite mech as its advanced systems detected a dangerous shift in movement from the hovertanks.

Lord Javier took a quick glance at their trajectories and their acceleration profile to recognize their intent.
”Kamikaze attacks! You dishonorable dogs! ”

A hovertank may be lighter than other forms of tanks, but they didn ’t lose out compared to aerial mechs and light mechs.
They possessed a significant amount of mass and carried a substantial amount of momentum after building up a respectable amount of speed.

Now that every crewmember evacuated from the vehicles, the autopilot accelerated the war machines forward with reckless abandon.
They could cross the distance in less a short span of time and impact the Raphael with power surpassing that of a heavy cannon attack.

”Guards, attend to me! Ranged mechs, shoot down the hovertanks! ”

The honor guard tried to shift away to assist their liege, but the Vandals redoubled their offensive, causing most of them to be pinned in place.
The ranged mechs were torn between aiding their comrades and shooting down the incoming hovertanks, and eventually decided to address the latter.
They couldn ’t disobey a direct order from their Lord.

”Pressure them! Supress them! Don ’t let them up! ” Captain Orfan yelled and joined the fray even though her spearman mech ’s chest exhibited a huge hole.

A single solid hit on the chest would ruin the mech entirely, and could even end her life.
Nonetheless, her devotion to the Vandals and her determination to complete the mission pushed her forward.
Not a single Vandal mech remained idle during the execution of the plan.

Lord Javier saw that things proceeded badly for his side.
The ranged mechs under his command tried their best to shoot down the hovertanks, and while they did manage to score some lucky hits that caused the hovertanks to faulter or explode, too many vehicles still pressed forth.

The noble ’s brow started to sweat profusely.
Just like Ves, Lord Javier had been keeping track of his ammunition reserves as well.
His mech only carried a couple more magazines.
Once the Loquacious Raphael ran out of ammunition, it lost more than half its effective combat strength.

”I don ’t have a choice! ”

The well-born man gritted his teeth and charged his resonance.
The Raphael ’s rifle arm glowed in a majestic rainbow colors, yet it looked a little less stable than usual.

”No matter how much attacks you throw at us, House Eneqqin endures! ” He broadcasted while trying to split his attention between fending off the persistent Vandal knight mech and maintaining his resonance with his mech.
”Even if we fall, my father will take vengeance for me! Ultimate move: Exalted Rainbow Storm! ”

The Raphael fired its rifle almost fully automatic.
The quick succession of shots practically drained the rifle ’s magazine.
Each of the powerful rainbow shells impacted a hovertank without fail.

As much as the hovertanks tried to make itself a difficult target, its extreme acceleration made it difficult for them to follow an evasive pattern.
Half of the shells hit dead center against the nose of the hovertanks.

All of the vehicles that got hit turned into fireballs or sustained so much damage that they failed to remain aloft.
Wreckage and pieces of debris rained down ruined ground of Neron City, but more of the tanks still closed in on the Raphael.

The elite mech reloaded its rifle in record time and fired at the hovertanks yet again.
This time, it didn ’t have the luxury to wait until its resonance charged up.
It emptied its rifle of shells without taking sufficient time to aim.

A few more hovertanks got taken out, but six more made it through.

Seconds away from impact, Lord Javier started to panic.
His backpack module just deposited its last magazine in its rifle.
With the hovertanks in spitting distance to his mech, he shot his last burst, causing three of the hovertanks to fall short of their goal.

Only three remained, and Javier could not think of anything else except to brace for impact.
Moments before the hovertanks impacted the mech, it threw away its spent rifle and detached the backpack module from its back.
Its free hand grabbed the backpack and gripped it as an improvised shield.

Naturally, Javier didn ’t think of enduring the collisions head on.
He tried to move his mech out of the way for a dodge, only to get halted by Kenneth ’s knight mech.

At the final second, the noble had neglected his struggle against the Vandal knight mech.
The mech dropped its sword and shield and took on the Raphael ’s sword strike head on, causing it to deliver an awful hack against its chest armor.

Kenneth ignored the damage to his mech and controlled it to reach forth with its arms until it held onto the Raphael ’s sword arm.

”You crazy Brighter! Let loose! ”

It was too late! The hovertanks reached their destination and impacted square against the Raphael in quick succesion!

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