The duel had reached its end stage.
Everyone in the audience held their breath after the dramatic turn of events.
They all thought that Avid Serpent possessed the advantage.
Not only did she cripple her opponent ’s mech, but the offensive she put out fully denied her opponent the opportunity to make a comeback.

Yet Captain Orfan found a way to fight back after all.
She did so by performing one of the greatest taboos in mech combat, which was to drop her own mech to the ground!

There was almost no reason for a mech to lay prone on the ground.
Not only would the machine lose most of its mobility, but it also put stresses on its frame which the designer had never anticipated.
Furthermore, a mech that had collapsed on the ground was a sitting duck for any enemy mech.
They could easily wreck a prone mech by stepping on it once!

Yet before the New Sentinel completely fell down, it had somehow succeeded in tripping the Rogue Breaker.
Not only that, but the mech had also positioned its spear with its butt against the ground in a prime position to impale the falling axeman mech.

”What an amazing desperation move! ”

”How did the Vandal mech manage to pull that leg down? ”

”Finish off the Vesian! ”

When the two mechs exhibited movement, the crowd started rooting for their favored mech pilot.
With the Rogue Breaker impaled by a spear that miraculously held on up to now and the New Sentinel being squashed by the former mech with axes embedded into its chest, which mech still possessed the energy to finish the match?

In one of the front seats, Ves gripped his fists and hoped the damage to the New Sentinel wasn ’t as bad as it appeared.
In times like these, he felt the pain suffered by many mech designers.

It was no secret that many humans in the galaxy wanted to become mech pilots.
People like Ves only became mech designers after finding out that their aptitude would never allow them to interface with a mech.
Though he had ultimately turned around and embraced his current career, a small part of him still craved to fight in a mech rather than supplying it to someone else.

This was a feeling shared by many mech designers.
Back at Rittersberg, his professors sometimes touched upon this subject.

”As mech designers, we are destined to be the people cheering our warriors on.
Our primary role in society is to support the mech pilots.
Do not delude yourself to be one of them.
Even if your causes are the same, their fight is not our fight.
The winds and rains that they have to go through in order to survive another battle is theirs to endure.
If one mech pilot dies, there is always another customer for you to engage. ”

Ves recalled those words as he silently rooted for Captain Orfan.
Some mech designers believed they needed to be dispassionate to their clients.
Others believed that mech designers should build a close connection to the mech pilots that used their products.
The different schools of thought often fought against each other, and up to today neither side had achieved superiority.

He supposed he ordinarily fell into the school of thought that believed a mech designer should keep their distance with their clients and avoid becoming entangled with their affairs.
If someone bought a Blackbeak one day and used it to massacre an isolated village, Ves did not feel guilty at all.
What did the actions of a lunatic have to do with him?

His cognition changed when he accompanied Walter ’s Whalers in their jaunt to the Glowing Planet.
Ves found it hard not to care about their lives when he serviced their mechs.
Still, even when most of the Whalers died in the hellish campaign, Ves hardly shed a tear for their loss.
They were only acquaintances at most to him.
He couldn ’t even recall the names of the fallen.

It was only when he rode with the Flagrant Vandals and assumed responsibility as a head designer that Ves had finally gone over to the other side.
Ves cared a lot about the Vandals, and his heart bled whenever they suffered casualties in battle.
This was especially because his fingerprints were all over their mechs.
Though he hadn ’t serviced them personally, the men who worked on the machines largely followed his instructions from above.

Right now, Ves felt the same burden of responsibility crushing on his shoulders.

The strength of a mech depended on both the mech and the mech pilot.
Though the skill of the mech pilot was beyond his purview, the state of the mech could not be separated from his hand.
The Pointed Sentinel was an old creation of Ophidian-Wheelax Industries, but the New Sentinel was thoroughly a creation that transcended its origins.

”This mech duel isn ’t a one versus one.
It ’s a two versus two. ”

Captain Orfan versus Avid Serpent.

Ves Larkinson versus Gabriel Creta.

Ves felt fully invested in this duel.
Though he could never match the dedication of the mech pilots who put their lives at stake, Ves felt as if his own competence was at stake.

”The New Sentinel is a mech that stems from my work! ”

Right now, with both mechs piled up against each other, the capabilities of the mech pilots ceased to be important.
What truly counted at this moment was which mech designer fashioned a better machine!

Which mech would still be able to fight after suffering such heavy blows? Would the New Sentinel be able to push off the Rogue Breaker? Did the latter mech still have the capability to function after an entire spear was thrust through its chest?

The answers to both questions relied on how well the mech designers built the mechs!

”Come on! You can still fight! ”

Though the New Sentinel suffered a lot more blows than the Rogue Breaker, the damage should have been rather shallow.
Ves carefully looked at the axes embedded into the chest of the spearman mech and judged that the weapons hadn ’t penetrated too deeply.

Too bad the angle of view was rather bad for him.
He turned to the sides and looked at the projections with a magnified view of the mechs.
”There ’s a fifty percent chance that the power reactor or the cockpit has suffered a breach. ”

If the former had happened, then the New Sentinel was finished.
Luckily, it didn ’t appear his frankenstein mech had reached that point.
The axes stopped short of dealing direct damage to the power reactor!

”Since the mech is still moving, then the damage to the cockpit isn ’t fatal to Captain Orfan! ”

Good! This meant that even if the New Sentinel suffered severe damage, it still possessed enough energy to fight!

Though Ves had not paid too much attention to improving his mech ’s internals, he nonetheless carried over many improvements in this area.
He figured if the armor of the New Sentinel wasn ’t that good, he should at least strengthen the internals so that any breaches would not drag the entire mech down.

Considering that Ves faced a melee mech, he focused primarily on enhancing the New Sentinel ’s redundancy.
This basically meant that if the mech suffered a crippling blow, it would still be able to retain some of its functions through other means.

This was also why he felt confident that Captain Orfan could still win the match.
”With all the redundancies I ’ve introduced, the power reactor should still be able to function at a diminished capacity.

The only variable that concerned Ves was whether Avid Serpent possessed the same opportunity! Though the Rogue Breaker looked as if it had seen better days, Ves feared that the spear had not inflicted enough damage.
It depended a lot on what components the spear had actually damaged.
Did the weapon pierce something important, or did it strike something of less value such as heatsinks?

A strange minute passed as both mechs fumbled against each other.
Neither mech was able to exert a lot of power.
Both had suffered serious damage that affected their motor capacities.
The New Sentinel wasn ’t able to push off the frame of the opponent ’s mech, while the Rogue Breaker couldn ’t even lift up its axes.

”Punch! ”

The two mechs eventually resorted to wrestling with each other.
In this, both sides possessed distinctive advantages.
The Rogue Breaker still possessed two working arms, while the New Sentinel only had to make do with one.
The upside was that the latter mech ’s arm retained a lot more strength!

”Keep punching, captain! ”

With no weapon in hand, the New Sentinel had no choice but to bare its fists against its adversary.
The mech kept punching against the axeman mech ’s torso.
The continuous punches aggravated the condition of the mech as the energy transferred by the punches messed up its internals.
Though the damage done by each punch was slight, the longer it went on, the greater the chance of a critical fault!

The Rogue Breaker attempted to counterattack, but its limbs had turned especially feeble! Ves looked closely and determined that while its power reactor still functioned properly, its transfer of motive power had been cut by at least eighty to ninety percent!

This meant that the axeman mech could barely summon the power to lift its own arms!

The entire crowd displayed a mix of responses to this turn of events.
Many found it disappointing that such a heated match ended in such an exceptionally low note.
Others still held out hope that Avid Serpent could stage a comeback.

Alas, the spear impaled through the Rogue Breaker ’s frame happened to cut through a critical junction to its engine! While Crete had been prudent enough to implement redundancies, the spare junction happened to be situated in the same line!

One junction at the front and another one at the rear.
Ordinary battle damage would never penetrate from one end of the mech to the other end of the mech.

In truth, Gabriel Crete focused upon elevating the performance of the Rogue Breaker.
He spent insufficient attention on increasing its redundancies!

Both mech designers had chosen different paths, and Ves appeared to have chosen wisely!

After a few minutes of punching and fiddling, the New Sentinel finally managed to pry open a gap in the torso armor of the other mech.
Once it opened up this vulnerability, the spearman mech gleefully reached out with its fingers towards the axeman mech ’s cockpit!

It was too bad that both mechs seemed to have lost their speaker functionality.
Otherwise, they might have been able to hear Avid Serpent ’s last words.

”Kill her! ”

”Vesia will never forget this! ”

”Stop! You don ’t have to kill her! ”

The New Sentinel ’s finger finally breached the cover of the cockpit.
With as much power as Captain Orfan could direct, the New Sentinel firmly pressed within the cockpit like finger pressing down an insect hiding within a hole!

When the finger drew back, a smattering of blood marked its surface.

The announcer suddenly came to life again.
”Our sensors show no life signs within Avid Serpent ’s mech.
The outcome is clear! The winner of this honor duel is Captain Rosa Orfan of the 6th Flagrant Vandals! ”

The entire crowd went wild with glee or despair.
A lot of people had bet their money on Avid Serpent, but even more bet on Captain Orfan! After all, one mech pilot was in the dark while the other was a strong captain from a military mech regiment!

Still, a lot of people rooted for Avid Serpent, including almost every Vesian in the crowd.
Their faces appeared sullen as Avid Serpent ’s loss not only implicated her honor.
It would have been acceptable if she suffered from her own consequences.
The problem was that she dragged down the dignity of the Vesia Kingdom upon her fall!

After displaying so much strength near the end of the match, how could she lose so ignobly at the very end? Every Vesian felt angry and ashamed.
As much as they wanted to roar against the unfairness of it all, the fact of the matter was that they lost!

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