Chapter 4333 The Long Wwait
Hundreds of artillery mechs steadily bombarded one of the last industrial districts of Ardam with their cannons.
A continuous stream of straight and powerful disruptor beams struck the titan shield, causing it to wobble and destabilize at a rapid rate.
Different from the models employed by the Hex Army, the Transcendent Punisher Mark II did not possess anytraditional artillery armaments.
This was not a surprise considering that the Larkinson Clan designed it to function as a bunker mech first and foremost.
Battles in space tended to start at longer distances.
Terrain features were almost entirely absent in the void.
Both of these factors meant that the best artillery mechs tended to be outfitted with weapon systems that could accurately pound distant targets that were within line of sight.
If there was any desire to attack targets that happened to be blocked by other obstacles, a mech force would usually field machines that were equipped with missiles.
Currently, the use of missile weapons happened to have dropped off in the Red Ocean.
Though it was cheap and easy to build them and to equip them onto mechs, making use of them required the constant consumption of costly missiles.
It took a good amount of money to produce missiles that were fast and powerful enough to threaten mechs and other targets.
Their warheads had to incorporate volatile exotics that were troublesome or expensive to source.
In a region that was suffering from a galaxy-wide resource shortage, it could be at least ten times as costly to make use of missile-based mechs as opposed to other kinds of ranged mechs!
As such, neither the Hexers nor the Golden Skullers fielded missileer mechs in larger numbers.
They most definitely had their uses, but they simply werent economical yet to earn their place on the battlefield.
This left the Larkinson Army in a rather awkward position.
The Transcendent Punisher Mark II did not possess the capability to inflict heavy damage through indirect fire.
Sure, it was possible to utilize its gauss weapons as siege weapons by pointing them at high angles in the air so that their projectiles eventually dropped on top of their targets, but the specific weapon systems werent designed or optimized for this kind of usage.
The Hexer heavy artillery mechs were able to remain in the outskirts of Ardam and fire their explosive or incendiary shells at any target in the city regardless of the obstacles in their way.
The tall structures of the more developed parts of the urban districts could not block the arcing shells in the slightest.
In fact, the Hexers didnt mind destroying every structure in the way.
The only reason why they did not waste too much time on it was because their time was too limited to pound everything to rubble.
This was why they utilized incendiary shells instead.
They only had to fire a few salvos to engulf a rich commercial district in flames that were hot enough to slowly melt fortified buildings!
“The titan shield is about to collapse.” Commander Melkor Larkinson spoke to his fellow legion commander.
“Be sure to have your men knock out the turrets inside as soon as possible.
They have already dealt enough damage to our knight warriors.”
Commander Taon Melin curtly nodded.
“Our artillery mechs have already set their targets in advance.
We are already familiar with this routine.”
The Avatars of Myth led the assault on this specific industrial district, but they did not particularly excel in siege warfare.
This was why the Eye of Ylvaine had split up its artillery mech units and attached them to numerous different assault groups.
Otherwise the other mech legions might take ages to overcome the strong and resilient titan shields that the Fridaymen used in large numbers throughout their settlements.
Though the remnants of the Sundered Phalanx still retained a good amount of combat power, neither of the legion commanders took their opposition seriously anymore.
The Fridaymen had dispersed their mech units too much for any of them to be able to stop the attacks on different strongholds.
For example, according to the intelligence gathered by the Black Cats, the industrial district in front of the Larkinson mechs was occupied by just 200 or so mechs, with at least half of them consisting of Planetary Guard mechs.
The Avatars of Myth along with the Eye of Ylvaine brought almost twice as much mechs in total, and their overall combat power was greater than that of the machines of the opposition.
“The titan shield is collapsing in three, two, one, go!”
A loud frazzled noise spread throughout the air as the mighty titan shield finally succumbed from getting attacked by all of the disruptor beams fired by the Transcendent Punisher Mark IIs.
The heavy artillery mechs no longer fired any disruptor beams from their luminar crystal energy cannons, but that did not mean their role had come to an end.
The Ylvainan mech pilots immediately opened fire with their gauss cannons and instantly bombarded the exposed laser turrets that had been firing at the Larkinson mechs on a continuous basis!
Meanwhile, the Avatars of Myth took action as well.
Their melee mechs advanced forward at a steady pace and mostly focused their efforts on defeating the Fridayman mechs that were putting up a futile effort to defend their stronghold.
Though the defenders initially enjoyed a considerable defensive advantage due to the presence of walls, bunkers and other defensive fixtures, the Transcendent Punishers easily blasted them open by relying on concentrated bombardment.
After that, the Avatars of Myth sent forth Redaxes in order to widen the breach and chop apart any enemy mechs in the way.
In the end, the Avatars and Ylvainans succeeded in uprooting all forms of heavy resistance from the industrial district.
Though there were still a lot of scattered infantry soldiers stirring up trouble at different locations, their rocket launchers hardly posed a threat against the Larkinson mechs.
The two legion commanders relaxed now that their forces had managed to break open yet another industrial district.
Follow-up troops had already arrived to clean up the remaining resistance and plunder another batch of resources from the local manufacturing complexes.
Of course, those privately-owned factories tended to possess defenses of their own, but it only took a single mech company at most to secure these places.
Not everyone was as paranoid and cautious as the Larkinson Clan.
Both Taon and Melkor found the time to chat about numerous topics.
“I thought you would have broken through during this battle for certain.” Commander Melkor carefully spoke to his fellow legion commander.
“Youve been an expert candidate for many years.
That should be more than enough time for you to take the next step.
You and your fellow Ylvainans fought hard against the Witch Shatterers in the last battle.”
Commander Taon let out a tired breath.
“My time has not yet come.
I am afraid I have to disappoint you.
Our clan will have to wait for a longer time before it can welcome its first expert pilot that excels in heavy artillery mechs.”
A lot of clansmen looked forward to Taons breakthrough.
Though the Larkinson Clan no longer suffered an acute shortage in expert ranged mechs, the Amaranto, the Minerva and the Promethea did not excel in unleashing mass destruction.
Their precision was great and they were good at using their distinct advantages to defeat different types of opponents, but when it came to matters such as siege warfare, the three expert mechs still fell short.
This was why Taons status as a pilot was of great significance to the Larkinson Clan.
The longer it took for him to break through, the longer the Larkinson Army had to go on without a siege machine that could make jobs such as breaking open titan shields a lot easier.
“Do you have any confidence in your chances of breaking through” Melkor asked.
“Maybe you should focus more on your training and less on handling the administration of your mech legion.
After several years of growth, there has to be mech officers within your ranks that can take over your responsibilities.”
Taon shook his head again.
“That is true, but I am aware of my own problems.
I have trained my skills as closely to my current limitations as possible.
Spending any further time on deepening my abilities wont benefit me anymore.
My problem is more… philosophical.”
Is it a mental thing”
“You can say that.” Taon frankly admitted.
“I have approached numerous expert pilots in the past in order to hear what they have to say.
Most of them tell me that I have too much faith.”
“Too much faith That… shouldnt be a problem, right There are plenty of warriors who believe in something but are still capable of breaking through in the end.
Just look at the Hexers for example.
The Handmaidens of Death are hardcore believers in Helena and the Superior Mother, but they are still making a lot of progress.”
“That is true, Melkor, but there are still differences.
The Hexers may have faith, but they still hold on to the principle that they must become strong as well.
Their pride and their conceit compels them to push themselves beyond their limits.”
“It sounds like you have a good understanding of your specific problem.
Why havent you been able to overcome it, Taon”
“Perhaps… it is because I dont feel enough urgency.
There are so many strong heroes in our clan that I am often in a position that doesnt require me to do anything special.
If the expert pilots of our clan cant take care of a threat by themselves, our clan can always make use of battle formations to launch powerful attacks.
Even if we have exhausted all of our own measures, we can still lean on the help of Patriarch Reginald Cross and the Mars to bail us out.
With all of these powerful elements, my role has become indispensable, especially when I am often stationed in the rear.”
Melkor wanted to scratch his head.
“This sounds like a familiar problem.
In the past, we didnt have many expert pilots, and it was easy for a powerful enemy to outnumber the ones we had.
Our situation is a lot different now.
We just welcomed three new expert pilots in our ranks, so our pressure has been reduced.”
“This is a good development for our clan.” Taon stated.
“The only regret is that it might not be as good for my own development.”
It was not necessarily good to gather too many expert pilots together.
Studies had shown that subsequent breakthroughs happened at a lower rate.
This was because the ordinary mech pilots no longer tended to push themselves beyond their limits during crisis situations, but increasingly hoped that the existing expert pilots would save them instead.
This was why many mech militaries tried to spread out their expert pilots as much as possible.
The presence of one or two per mech regiment provided enough protection to the troops, but did not make them complacent to the point where they constantly expected their heroes to clean up after their messes.
“Why not switch to another mech” Melkor curiously asked.
“You dont have to remain stuck in the rear while piloting your custom Transcendent Punisher mech.
Your Eye of Ylvaine also fields lancer mechs.
Those Transcendent Chargers have impaled many Fridayman mechs during the last battle, but they have also received fierce counterattacks in return.
I bet your chances of breaking through while piloting a melee mech like this will be a lot higher.”
Taon adopted a rueful smile.
“I did think about that, but… our clan doesnt need an expert lancer mech.
A machine like the Point Break of the Sundered Phalanx is not a useful addition to our lineup.
If I break through while piloting a Transcendent Charger, my talents and abilities will develop in a way that will help me become stronger while piloting lancer mechs.
That is not my goal.
My plan is to continue to pilot a heavy artillery mech and wait for the day that I can finally become the hero that the Larkinson needs.”
That… was a difficult but noble determination.
Melkor had nothing to say against that.
If he was in Taons place, he probably wouldnt have been able to resist the temptation of becoming a demigod.
There were countless mech pilots in existence that were willing to do anything to undergo apotheosis! None of them cared about the circumstances of their breakthroughs so long as they actually succeeded in advancing!
“I wish you good luck, then.
I truly hope you will be rewarded for your effort.”
“I know I will.
I just dont know when it will happen.” Taon whispered back.
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