The Mech Touch is a Webnovel made by Exlor.
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The Great Zona Republic offered fertile ground for many mercenary corps. The inherent instability in the outer regions of the state resulted in frequent battles.
Rebels fought against the authorities. The authorities fought against the rebels.
The people suffered while the chaos drew in other interested groups.
The closer to the border, the more public security deteriorated. All manner of pirates and other sc.u.m lingered in this region, aware that the military couldn’t possibly handle every threat!
Ves expected he would encounter some lowlife gang or a bunch of bottom-feeder pirates.
Instead, his Scarlet Rose landed right next door to a fleet of disciplined mercenaries!
As the Scarlet Rose desperately tried to delay the inevitable interception, Ves took the time to connect to the galactic net and look up the Echo Spears.
It turns out that the Echo Spears was a force to be reckoned with in the Great Zona Republic.
Its leader was a former mech officer and still maintained ties to his former service. Over the course of several decades, Commander Leonard Quint managed to grow his mercenary corps from a small band of brothers into a formidable mercenary organization that fielded over ten light carriers!
That was a remarkable growth trajectory!
All of this sounded familiar to Ves. In the Bright Republic, many veterans tended to form or join a mercenary corps when they were discharged from the Mech Corps.
The veterans-turned-mercenaries were a cut above other mercenaries who never underwent military training. These veterans were much more reliable as they still adhered to a code of honor, and their extensive skill and experience insured that they achieved a lot of victories.
Some of these mercenary corps even maintained loose ties to the military or the government. With such solid backing, these mercenary corps gained an edge over the compet.i.tion, thereby preventing other mercenary corps owned by less-desirable groups from dominating the local mercenary industry!
Though the record and the news articles on the Echo Spears did not mention anything about a military connection, Ves found many subtle clues. The mercenary corps developed far too quickly to have grown without backing.
“Ten light carriers and hundreds of mechs can’t come from nowhere!” Ves muttered in a depreciating tone. “The mercenary business isn’t that profitable!”
It cost a lot of money to acquire mechs and s.h.i.+ps. It cost even more money to service and to replace them in the event of suffering losses.
It was actually very hard to make a profit in the mercenary business! Too many business-illiterate mech pilots ran their outfits to the ground while being mired in debt!
For an outfit like the Echo Spears to expand their forces so rapidly and consistently was a very good indicator of their competence in battle!
“These guys are tough.” Ves concluded. “There’s no way to defeat them easily!”
He wouldn’t be able to resort to cheap tricks such as nagging them until they left like he did with the Blind Prophets.
With time running out and few viable options available to him, Ves felt as if a net was closing in on him. If he didn’t do something, he might get caught!
“I have no choice!” Ves gritted his teeth.
He issued some commands to the s.h.i.+p before departing the bridge. He had some preparations to do, and he didn’t have a crew to do it for him! If he wanted something done, he had to take care of it himself!
“Lucky! Where are you!? Get back to me! Are you going to help me or are you going to keep emptying my materials storeroom?!”
Half an hour pa.s.sed by as the fleet of five light carriers indomitably caught up to the Scarlet Rose.
The latter s.h.i.+p accelerated faster than the mercenary s.h.i.+ps.
There was no doubt as to why. The Scarlet Rose was significantly smaller than the carriers designed to accommodate up to forty mechs. She also incorporated much better tech and materials as a second-cla.s.s vessel.
Ves constantly relied on these advantages to evade pursuit while his s.h.i.+p crossed through the territories of the Ordent Republic.
Yet now, no amount of acceleration that the Scarlet Rose could muster would allow her to evade pursuit long enough to transition back into FTL!
Contact was inevitable, and both sides knew it. Ves had already become resigned to the fact while the Echo Spears all antic.i.p.ated the incredibly rich payout of capturing a stolen s.h.i.+p from the Friday Coalition!
As soon as the light carriers needed twenty more minutes to enter combat range, they cut back on their acceleration.
There was no reason to fly any closer.
This range was already close enough to deploy their mechs!
If Commander Quint thought that his target posed an actual threat to his forces, then he would have deployed his mechs earlier.
Yet since the Scarlet Rose posed no threat at all according to the intelligence provided by the Coalition Reserve Corps, the Echo Spears might as well save some fuel and energy.
It was pretty expensive to expend the energy of so many mechs! Even with financial backing, the Echo Spears still maintained the habit of saving costs whenever possible.
An intimidating sight bloomed as mech after mech launched from the mech hangars of the light carriers.
Since they were just commercial models, the large vessels didn’t feature many main hatches. The mechs had to line up one by one and launch into s.p.a.ce sequentially.
The Echo Spears only brought their s.p.a.ceborn mechs this time. By the time the carriers finished deploying all of their a.s.sets, around 170 mechs formed up in three different elements!
The main element leisurely flew ahead, deliberately controlling its acceleration to provide time for the other two elements to swing around and surround the fleeing Scarlet Rose from the flanks!
Though this delayed their approach, the Echo Spears had more than enough time to capture their target!
The CRC had already pa.s.sed on that the Scarlet Rose required at least five hours to cycle her FTL drive!
Without a crew or engineer, it was impossible to shorten this lengthy interval. Even if Ves possessed the abilities of a stars.h.i.+p engineer, then he could only shave off an hour of the cycling time at most!
Since the Echo Spears had plenty of time at hand, they spread out their forces to envelop the Scarlet Rose and cut off all escape routes.
In truth, dispatching 170 mechs to capture a single, unprotected frigate was ma.s.sive overkill. A single squad was sufficient to force the Scarlet Rose’s surrender!
Commander Quint didn’t want to damage the s.h.i.+p, though. The Coalition offered a much better reward if they managed to capture the s.h.i.+p intact!
For this reason, he chose to adopt an overwhelming approach and induce a surrender without firing a shot.
Anyone sane would never think to resist against so many mechs!
Unfortunately, the Echo Spears just happened to b.u.mp into someone who was less than sane!
As Commander Quint calmly instructed a squad of his more junior mech pilots to break from one of the main elements and close in on the fugitive s.h.i.+p, the command center suddenly sounded an alarm.
“Commander, the mech hangar hatch of the Scarlet is retracting!”
“We have a direct optical view of the mech hangar retracting its hatch!”
The sensor operator activated a projection that showed the Scarlet Rose in all her splendor. Her thrusters burned bright as the s.h.i.+p vainly attempted to outrun her pursuers.
A hatch large enough to fit a medium mech with some room to spare slid open, giving Commander Quint and every other observer a clear view of the interior of the mobile supply frigate’s mech hangar.
“What is Mr. Larkinson up to?” The mercenary commander wondered.
Soon enough, the answer became clear, as an agile s.p.a.ceborn skirmisher launched into s.p.a.ce with its radiant flight system glowing white!
“A mech?!” Commander Quint widened his eyes. “What is the meaning of this?! The s.h.i.+p was supposed to be minimally crewed, if crewed at all?! There is no indication that Mr. Larkinson managed to pick up a mech pilot!”
The intelligence was wrong!
The s.p.a.ceborn skirmisher slowly took up position a few hundred meters away from the Scarlet Rose. Its flight system easily matched the pace of the stolen s.h.i.+p’s active propulsion system.
The mech was obviously a part of Lady Curver’s former mech compliment! Markings belonging to the Friday Coalition, the Gauge Dynasty and Clarion University still dominated its chest.
As a second-cla.s.s mech, the skirmisher possessed a more varied loadout than the skirmishers fielded by the Echo Spears.
Aside from carrying a set of penetrating daggers, the Coalition skirmisher also wielded a compact pulse submachine gun!
Capable of firing rapid bursts of energetic pulsed particles, it was a deadly weapon at close range that inflicted a substantial amount of energy damage topped with a bit of physical damage!
Though a single skirmisher armed with short-ranged weapons was not enough to inspire fear in the Echo Spears, the Scarlet Rose was not done with disgorging appropriated mechs!
A dozen seconds later, a formidable-looking s.p.a.ce knight emerged in s.p.a.ce.
Compared to the s.p.a.ce knights of the Echo Spears, this second-cla.s.s mech not only excelled in defense and melee combat, but also possessed the ability to fight against ranged opponents!
Two retractable laser weapon mounts graced its shoulders, giving it the ability to punish any ranged mech that thought that they could kite and whittle down the s.p.a.ce knight from a distance!
A third mech appeared soon after. The s.p.a.ceborn rifleman mech looked bulkier than cheaper rifleman mechs, but still boasted a considerable amount of mobility!
Its large, dual-type laser-particle beam rifle was capable of outputting accurate fire at long range and devastating energy at closer ranges!
The final mech that emerged sent a shudder through the backs of the Echo Spears.
A s.p.a.ceborn medium artillery mech emerged last. Larger than the preceding mechs, the mech barely fit through the open hatch!
Though large and heavy, its mobility was still good enough to match the acceleration of the s.p.a.ce knight!
Unlike the defensive mech, the artillery mech packed a significant punch at longer ranges!
Its main armament consisted of a gauss cannon. Scaled up from a standard mech-sized gauss rifle, the cannon featured a slow firing rate. Its large projectiles also prevented the artillery mech from carrying too much ammunition.
Aside from its fearsome gauss cannon, the artillery mech also featured a pair of shoulder-mounted missile launchers.
Though the missile launcher pods looked no different from the ones mounted on third-cla.s.s mechs, their true threat lay in the quality and payload of the missiles!
Once the four mechs of the Scarlet Rose exited her mech hanger, a brief delay ensued.
As if acting on command, the mechs abruptly moved!
The s.p.a.ce knight and skirmisher mechs both hovered protectively alongside the artillery mech and rifleman mech.
The two ranged mechs slowly aimed their main weapons in the direction of the light carriers of the Echo Spears before opening fire!
The flags.h.i.+p screamed in alarm as the rifleman mech’s powerful dual-type rifle fired a powerful laser beam that was powerful enough to match the output of several third-cla.s.s heavy mechs!
While this beam did not cause the light carrier to suffer any physical damage, the energy it packed was enough to vaporize multiple layers of armor plating, dumping a huge amount of heat in some of the bow compartments of the s.h.i.+p!
A combat carrier would have fared a lot better, but light carriers weren’t supposed to be so vulnerable to laser fire!
This was the power of a second-cla.s.s mech weapon! The disparity in power couldn’t be more stark!
Just after the laser beam opened up a gap in the bow section of the carrier, a hyper-accelerated gauss cannon projectile quickly slammed into the cavity, causing the s.h.i.+p to suffer a substantial collision!
A large amount of debris sprayed into s.p.a.ce as several compartments broke up in an instant, pulverizing plenty of bodies as the light carrier forcefully endured the sheer amount of kinetic energy cras.h.i.+ng onto her hull!
Just two hits was enough to inflict major damage to one of the mothers.h.i.+ps of the Echo Spears!
Though this was far from enough to cripple the s.h.i.+p, the damage the second-cla.s.s mechs inflicted was enough to shock the mercenaries who expected an easy reward!
Within the mech hangar of the Scarlet Rose, Ves erupted into laughter as he stood in front of a large, improvised control panel.
“Did you think I was lying!? Not this time!”
The control panel was split into multiple sections. Four of them just happened to project the control interfaces of four different mechs!
“Let’s give them another lesson! Fire!”
As soon as Ves pressed a couple of b.u.t.tons, the rifleman mech and artillery mech fired another salvo at the enemy flags.h.i.+p!
“HAHAHAHA! Do you regret chasing after me? It’s too late!”
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