Willful pirate mech pilots aside, the Swordmaiden mechs that had left the Vandal mechs in the dust accelerated extremely fast.
The booster packs mounted to their rear must have put a heavy amount of pressure on the mech frame, yet they all somehow managed to hold together.
That took skill.
Not any mech designer could produce a mech that could withstand these forces.

”The Swordmaiden mech designers are pretty good. ” Ves softly muttered.
His eyes penetrated through the design and recognized it as a collaboration work.
”This spaceborn swordsman mech design combines multiple specialties in a single frame. ”

Though it fell short in many aspects, when it came to its strengths, it could truly compete against proper commercial mech models.
This was not some amateur work from a bunch of inexperienced Novices.

He sent out a data request to the Swordmaiden flagship.
A couple of seconds later, his control panel displayed a very brief spec sheet of what the Swordmaidens called the Misty Slasher.

”Fast and powerful! ”

The spec sheet confirmed most of the guesses that Ves had made about the design.
The Misty Slasher was designed as a peak performance mech.
It was capable of delivering a powerful burst of performance, excelling in both mobility and offensive power.
Their booster packs and oversized flight systems allowed them to maneuver fast in space while their huge broadswords allowed them to overpower most defenses through sheer brute force!

Though these mechs didn ’t have the staying power to last more than half an hour in a high-intensity battle, most spaceborn battles in the frontier never lasted that long.
Only rarely would pirates become engulfed in a lengthy battle or a long campaign.

The Misty Slashers happened to excel in short skirmishes! While the battle taking place at this very moment went beyond a simple skirmish, for the moment they possessed a definite advantage!

The rifleman mechs of the Caged instantly split off from the mechs of the Masters of Combat and tried to widen the distance.
The thin and agile mechs moved faster than the Misty Slashers if they hadn ’t activated their boosters.
However, the latter still stood a chance of catching as long as they didn ’t run out of fuel for their boosters.

”Commander Lydia! Your mechs are focusing on the wrong target! We agreed to take out the rifleman mechs first! ”

”My apologies, major.
Commander Lydia has just deployed in the field. ”

Major Verle growled.
Though the Vandals treated the Swordmaidens as an equal partner in this teamup, the truth was that they were very different mech outfits.
Both of them maintained very different standards of discipline!

A more resplendent spaceborn swordsman mech emerged from the bowels of the Swordmaiden flagship! Commander Lydia herself had entered the battlefield! Ves quickly figured out that Lydia ’s mech was a custom job.
It carried over the same principles of the Misty Slasher, but performed much better as it made use of much more expensive exotics.

”That ’s basically throwing money at the mech to forcefully uplift its performance! ”

This was considered to be a wasteful exercise.
Design choices that made sense with cheaper materials might not be the most efficient solutions when replaced with higher quality materials.
Support beams didn ’t need to be as thick, and armor plating can be thinner as well.
The weight distribution of the mech had shifted its balance and other properties.

Basically, Ves thought it was better if Commander Lydia piloted a mech that was designed to be expensive from the start.

Nonetheless, these gripes did not detract from the custom Misty Slasher ’s excellent performance.
Its supercharged boosters closed the distance to the enemy mechs more than twice as fast as the regular Misty Slashers! It descended on the ranks from the Masters of Combat and stabbed forward with the full force of its momentum behind the blow!

The Nyven Skrat in the way sensed the threat and opened its launcher ports.
A small volley of rockets whipped from the chest launchers and impacted the custom mech as it charged with indomitable courage!

”Too weak! ” Lydia howled.
The madness that made her such a force to be reckoned with in the frontier came to the fore.
”Come! Baptise my mech! ”

The rockets impacted her mech, causing its frontal armor to crack.
Nonetheless, only the uppermost layer had been affected.
Her mech continued to boost forward without any sign of stopping!

A huge soundless impact scarred the Nyven Skrat in the way! Lydia ’s broadsword ran straight through the heavy chest armor of the Masters of Combat mech.
With a hefty jerk, the sword sliced its way out of the chest, conveniently gouging the broken mech until it became unrecoverable.

The initial stab had been precise enough to pierce through the cockpit.
The mech didn ’t have the time to offer any resistance before its mech pilot bought the farm.

The other Swordmaiden mechs weren ’t able to replicate Lydia ’s feat, but their heavy broadswords posed a very real threat to the Nyven Skrats.
The multipurpose mechs weren ’t able to utilize laser rifles at this range, and they had already emptied out their missile launchers at the initial stage.
Though the missiles and rockets took out a handful of unlucky Swordmaidens, the rest of them weathered the barrange and began to engage the Masters of Combat in melee!

Both the Swordmaidens and the Masters of Combat were proficient in melee.
The mechs belonging to the latter outfit predominantly utilized their swords and shields, recognizing that they needed to depend on their tower shields to withstand the heavy sword blows of the pirate mechs.

Lacking in both mobility and reach, the Nyven Skrats did not fare well against the Misty Slashers.
In general, swordsman mechs predominantly countered knight-type mechs because their advantages allowed them to strike at the weak points of the sluggish knights.

Numerous Swordmaidens grouped up and focused their offensive on a designated Nyven Skrat.
The multipurpose knight was able to fend off the Misty Slasher hacking mindlessly from the front, but that left its rear without any defense! Two Misty Slashers dove in to take out its vulnerable rear, only for another Nyven Skrat to position itself in front of its vulnerable counterpart.

The twin sword chops dug a deep groove in the tower shield of the rescuing Nyven Skrat, but it managed to hold! The Masters of Combat mech even took advantage of the recovery period of the Misty Slashers and inflicted a deep blow in the sides of one of the Swordmaiden mechs!

”The Swordmaidens have the advantage in mechs, but the Masters of Combat are much more skilled! ”

This difference played out just as the Vandals had feared.
No matter how well Lydia ’s Swordmaidens trained her mech pilots, it was a well-known fact that they did not particularly excel in spaceborn combat.
They showed more enthusiasm than skill in this battle.

The Masters of Combat was different.
Their highly-trained and versatile mech pilots were able to pull out the full strength of their multipurpose mechs.
Even when they faced a bad matchup, they still managed to halt the deadly momentum of the Swordmaidens.

Their current disadvantage wasn ’t a function of their skill, but rather their insufficient numbers.
They invested too much in their landbound mechs and didn ’t acquire enough spaceborn mechs to defend their fleet from threats in space!

”Bunch of ill-trained pirates! ” Major Verle cursed.
”They ’ve fallen into the trap of the Venidsans! ”

Right now, the Masters of Combat managed to turn around their disadvantage by adopting a defensive posture.
They rarely went for the kill, instead opting to focus at least ninety percent of their efforts on defense.

This was the appropriate strategy to adopt because the feral Swordmaiden mech pilots became engulfed in their bloodlust.
Presented with an attractive punching bag, they threw all their considerations of strategy out of their minds! The only priority in their minds was to vent their fury on the stoic Masters of Combat.

”Sisters! Victory is within sight! ”

”Carve them apart! ”

”Their shells will crack! ”

”Pah! Those smelly Vandal brutes are no help at all! ”

The only mech pilot worth a damn was Commander Lydia herself.
None of the others accomplished anything other than battering the tower shields of the Nyven Skrats.
Their efficiency was exceptionally poor as their powerful sword strikes wasted a lot of energy, draining their energy cells in rapid tempo!

Ves and most of the Vandals recognized what the Masters of Combat were up to.
Their larger, heavier Nyven Skrats ran on fuel cells.
Though this didn ’t enable the Nyven Skrats to deliver any powerful blows, the multipurpose mech became quite frugal in their energy expenditure when it defaulted to defense.

After all, the Misty Slashers needed to build up their momentum and exert maximum force in delivering their heavy blows.
The Nyven Skrats on the other hand merely had to brace their shields against incoming attacks.
They also had to engage their flight system to stabilize their posture and prevent them from spinning once the blow connected.

”What a huge mess. ” Ves shook his head.

From what he understood, Major Verle initially came up with a battle plan to take the Caged out of the equation as fast as possible.
Their hit-and-run style attacks worked best over time.
If the Flagrant Swordmaidens became preoccupied with cracking the tough mechs of the Masters of Combat, then the flanking Caged mechs would have plenty of time to rain down their laser beams on the Vandals and the Swordmaidens.

”Vandals, stick to the plan.
If the Swordmaidens want to entertain the Masters of Combat, then that ’s their business. ”

The offensive might of the Caged needed to be taken care of regardless of this unanticipated change.
In the original plan, the mobile mechs of the Vandals and the Swordmaidens should have overwhelmed the ranged mechs right at the point of contact.

After the Caged lost dozens of mechs at once, Sub-Boss Scornburned would be able to seize upon the shock inflicted upon his subordinates and call for a hasty retreat.
This effectively put an entire outfit out of play within the span of a single minute!

This was a plan straight out of Major Verle ’s playbook! The mech officer constantly sought to boost the morale of his allies while attempting to break the morale of his opponents.

Ves sighed from his observation seat.
”Too bad that doesn ’t work now.
The Swordmaidens aimed their powerful offensive power at the wrong mechs. ”

Many Vandals in the command center gritted their teeth that the braindead behavior of Lydia ’s Swordmaidens.
They had never expected these savvy pirates that have managed to survive in the frontier for decades to be this impulsive on the battlefield.

Then again, their usual opponents weren ’t much better.

Waves of Vandal Inheritor mechs descended upon the rifleman mechs of the Caged.
The cunning Roppongan mech pilots saw the skirmisher mechs coming and most managed to dodge the twin dagger strikes at the last moment.

It turned out that the ranged mechs incorporated miniature boosters along its frame that easily allowed it to evade incoming attacks.
Though Ves predicted that these miniboosters wouldn ’t be able to displace the rifleman mechs more than half-a-dozen times.
Yet their impact on the battle was profound.
The mech pilots of the Caged utilized this initial boost to accelerate out of the reach of the confounded Inheritors.

The confusion among the Vandal mech pilots didn ’t last very long.
Now that they knew what they were dealing with, they adjusted their strategies and formed groups that attempted to gang up on the Caged mechs from multiple directions.

Still, all of this cost time, during which the Roppongan mechs steadily chipped away at the lightly-armored Inheritor mechs.
At close range, it wasn ’t easy for the Caged mech pilots to track the swift and complex movements of the skirmisher mechs, but they did manage to score some fatal hits, disabling more and more Vandal mechs.

Fortunately, the inherently inferior penetration power of a laser weapon granted the Inheritor mech pilots enough leeway to eject their cockpits in time.
Tens of them had ejected in the first minute.
Their cockpits soared towards the Vandal combat carriers without interruption as their opponents didn ’t wish to drive the Vandals over the edge.

”Come on! This is taking too long! Those rifleman mechs need to be taken down this instant! ”

The longer the battle went on, the more the Swordmaiden mechs exhausted themselves.
While the Vandals still believed they held the upper hand, the losses became increasingly more severe.
They could not afford to incur heavy damage at this point.

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