If a random mech pilot came to this conclusion, then so could the rest of the Flagrant Swordmaidens.

No one looked forward to a decisive battle against the Vesians.
With the Hostland Warriors as the mainstay and the Meandering Monkeys assaulting the flanks, the Flagrant Swordmaidens did not possess any inherent advantages.

Very likely, the Meandering Monkeys probed the Vandals so aggressively not just to play some games.
Each time they appeared, they attempted to probe deeper into the defensive envelope of the Flagrant Swordmaidens.

The Vesians wanted to gather intelligence on their opponent ’s strength.
More specifically, they sought to obtain a solid count of mechs they had to face.

”The Vesians aren ’t as stupid as the Caged Tongs.
There ’s no way they ’ll commit to an attack if we outnumber them by a hundred mechs or more. ” Ves stated during a brief moment of off-time at the mess hall.

Chief Dakkon efficiently shoveled down his chow into his mouth.
None of the Vandals wasted any time on their food these days.
They had too much work to do!

”Do you reckon the Vesians outnumber us, Ves? We did spot them with a huge fleet in the last star system. ”

”Yeah, but then they got whacked by the Church of Haatumak.
If not for that, the Vesians would have been able to eliminate us in space before we reached the Aeon Corona System. ”

Yet no matter what happened, the conflict between the two could no longer be postponed.
Sooner or later, old hatreds along with some new ones needed to be reconciled.

The Bright Republic and the Vesia Kingdom may be waging a war many light-years away from the Aeon Corona System, yet no matter how far they traveled, they still couldn ’t escape the war!

Even if the Vesians lost several starships and incurred a lot of battle damage from the foiled ambush attack by the frontier cultists, they still retained much of their strength.

The Vandals tried to estimate the number of enemy mechs they might face from studying the long-distance sensor readings of the Vesian fleet.
The fleet in orbit also caught some more glimpses of the Vesian fleet, but they generally played cat-and-mouse for months.

It was well-known that the Flagrant Vandals placed more emphasis on spaceborn battles.
For now, the Vesians prudently placed their hopes on winning the battle on land.
No matter if the Vesians gained the upper hand on land or in space, a victory in either sphere instantly ended any hopes for the Vandals to complete the mission!

The Vesians knew exactly what they were doing.
The Flagrant Vandals stood a better chance in space than on land, which they never really excelled in fighting at unless they wanted to perform a quick raiding action.

Still, even if the Flagrant Vandals lacked both expertise and experience in this area, they were not vegetables! Recent landbound operations not only forced them to brush up their playbook, they also disciplined them into a smaller but more efficient fighting force.

The casualties suffered by the Vandals since the war reduced their numbers substantially, but those who survived all grew stronger from the harrowing experiences.
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If the Flagrant Vandals enjoyed some time to digest their gains and replenish their losses, then they would have emerged at least twenty percent stronger than their old selves.

Yet the lengthy mission and their Vesian rivals didn ’t allow them to do so!

A decisive battle between a mixed raiding regiment and a combination of professional scouts and versatile warriors should have ended in disaster for the former.

The only saving grace was that the Vandals weren ’t alone.
Lydia ’s Swordmaidens got caught in their old rivalry, and for better or worse, they needed to overcome this hurdle as well if they wanted to make off with any gains from the Starlight Megalodon.

Ketis paid a visit to the Vandal workshops later in the day.
She dropped by Ves ’ workplace in order to discuss the upcoming battle.

”You Vandals always make the Vesians out as horrible boogeymen. ” She began.
”Are the Vesians truly different from the enemies we ’ve fought before? We beat everyone who stood in the way.
Why are you so unconfident all of a sudden? ”

Ves glanced at Ketis with a grim expression.
”You Swordmaidens are taking the threat of military mech regiments too lightly.
They ’re nothing like the mercenary corps or pirate gangs you mix up with in the frontier.
They don ’t face the same constraints in funding, training, resources and manpower.
They are on a completely different level than civilian outfits. ”

”Yet the briefings say that even if the mech regiments are better funded and trained, they ’re not all that better than us in those aspects! We can still beat them in a fight! ”

”You ’re forgetting the most crucial difference. ” Ves shook his head.
”Haven ’t you seen the way the Flagrant Vandals fight? Any mech military is extremely good at training and drilling their mech pilots to fight in a certain fashion.
What do they excel at the most? Coordination and formation fighting! The difference isn ’t that big when it comes to skirmishes between single squads of mechs.
However, a major battle involving hundreds of mechs allows the Vesians to play out their immense advantages in this aspect alone! ”

Ketis still possessed the same flaw that afflicted the rest of the Swordmaidens.
Without seeing a true frontline mech regiment in battle, they wouldn ’t know how much of a force multiplier those advantages wrought.

Mechs fought best when they fought in unison! Clever formations amplified the inherent advantages of different mech models while covering up their weaknesses.

The female pirate designer frowned.
She still possessed some of the typical Swordmaiden conceit, but she also respected Ves too deeply to discount his opinion.
”In an even battle with the same amount of mechs and mech pilots, who would win, the Swordmaidens or these Vesians? ”

”There ’s no contest.
The latter will win any day. ”

”What?! Our Swordmaiden mechs and mech pilots aren ’t that much worse than the mechs we ’ve seen from your archival footage! ”

In order to impress the Swordmaidens of the seriousness of the threat, the Vandals freely handed over as much intelligence about the Meandering Monkeys and the Hostland Warriors.
Though the sparse recordings mostly showed actions from the previous wars, it still provided a valuable perspective on their strengths.

Unfortunately, it appeared too many Swordmaidens missed the mark.
They drew the wrong lessons from the footage.

”I suggest you go back and review the footage again.
Note that every opponent they face are military mech regiments or outfits that are connected to some military mech force.
Only by employing the same level of coordination can we withstand their attacks. ”

This time, Ketis didn ’t say anything, but used her head for once.
Ves always encouraged her to take a break and think through the implications of a contentious argument.
It was a lot better than running her mouth without any thought or care.

The gravity of the situation finally dawned upon her.
Our Swordmaiden mech pilots are never afraid of a brawl… but we never bothered much with all of this fancy formation stuff.
All we care about is hacking our opponents with our swords! ”

Having observed the operation of the Vandals and the Swordmaidens for so long, Ves knew the reason why the latter failed to elevate their coordination.
”It takes a special quality to be able to trust in your fellow mech pilots.
Mech militaries don ’t pay an excessive amount of importance at a mech pilot ’s genetic aptitude or their academy performance.
Instead, they value mech pilots who score high on traits such as trust, cooperation, obedience and more.
It doesn ’t matter if a mech pilot is a prodigy with a high genetic aptitude, if they are too cocky and rebellious, they can ’t be trusted. ”

”Our Swordmaidens aren ’t short of those qualities! We sisters are extremely close! We trust each other with our lives! ”

”Is that truly so? ” Ves expressed his doubt.
”Certainly, there is a high degree of camaraderie among your sisters.
Yet… the focus of your training is in an entirely different direction.
Commander Lydia has done a great job at transforming nobodies from the frontier into elite mech pilots, but that is only impressive when compared to the low standards of the Faris Star Region.
You Swordmaidens aren ’t tactically flexible enough and your teamwork is rudimentary.
Your cohesion is fairly high compared to other pirate gangs, but any random Vesian mech regiment is able to dwarf it with ease. ”

”If you ’re right, what can we do about it? We are already set in our ways, and I doubt my sisters can master formation fighting in a couple of days. ”

”The Swordmaidens aren ’t suitable to this style of battle at all.
Your mech pilots are champions and warriors more than soldiers.
If you want to achieve the best chance of achieving a victory, you have to find a way to force the Vesians into smaller groups.
They can ’t show their full prowess in formations if there aren ’t enough mechs to showcase their might. ”

This was easier said than done.
If the Vesians already gathered intelligence on Lydia ’s Swordmaidens, then they would know how to avoid such a situation.

In the end, Ketis left the workshop with a concerned expression.
Ves hoped that she ’d be able to convince her fellow sisters not to belittle the threat of the Vesians.
If they thought they could beat the Vesians like they did against pirates, then they were sorely mistaken!

Ves privately estimated the chances of victory, but he only came up with vague guesses.
The Flagrant Swordmaidens hadn ’t been able to scout the Vesians at all due to being constrained by the Meandering Monkeys.

The Vandals and Swordmaidens could forget about peeking at the main Vesian forces with experts in reconnaissance on the field!

A light mech regiment not only excelled in gathering intelligence, they also specialized in foiling enemy attempts at doing the same.

In fact, strictly speaking, the battle between the Flagrant Swordmaidens and the Vesians already started from the first sighting!

The battle between the light mechs from both sides already put the Vesians at an overwhelming advantage.

”Truly, when a mech regiment excels at only one area instead of splitting their focus, they are unbeatable in their own specialty! ”

This was the power of specialization! The Flagrant Vandals in fact possessed their own specialty as well, which was performing raids and avoiding enemy pursuit, but it encompassed a wide area of expertise.

In battle capabilities alone, the Flagrant Vandals split their training and resources in different areas.
They fielded both landbound and spaceborn mechs, ranged mechs and melee mechs, mechs of all three weight classes and more.

All of this split attention led to a very broad and general martial tradition where the Vandals paid more attention to the result rather than the method.
While this approach gave the Vandals a lot of freedom to pursue their interests in their own ways, it also hampered greater coordination as well as strip them of the benefits of uniformity.

Sometimes, a mech regiment grew much stronger by focusing on the method rather than emphasizing results! This was because continued training and specialization in a single area continuously allowed them to refine their strong points while finding ways to mitigate their distinctive weak points.

From this perspective alone, the Swordmaidens possessed an advantage over the Flagrant Vandals.
The elite pirates relentlessly trained in one mode of combat and became extremely skilled in their own area of expertise.

This was the biggest saving grace of the Swordmaidens, and provided every member of the Flagrant Swordmaidens some hope that they could still prevail in the coming battle.

”Yet is that merely false hope? ” Ves asked himself in a pessimistic tone.
”The Swordmaidens are specialized, but their lack of coordination makes it far too easy to outmaneuver them.
The Vandals on the other hand can keep up with the Vesians in terms of coordination and formation fighting, but their split focus in training means we don ’t possess a sharp enough weapon to spearhead our defense. ”

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