Chapter 7: Queen of the Skies
TheSeventhSnake sat back in his chair, exhausted even though he had been playing a simulation. The desperate dodging, the careful shots, that impulsive dive at the end. The high-intensity action echoed with his heart.
He did not even begrudge his loss to CassieTheFox. That final dive had been an attack that would have resulted in a Pyrrhic victory at best. Fighting in a way that killed 1000 men while losing 800 might be fine in Iron Spirit where repairs were cheap and fast. In the real universe, such a reckless action was a good way to find yourself into a coffin or retired to a desk job.
[Triceratopssss: THAT WAS AMAZING! :O]
[TheSeventhSnake: I know. Iapos;m going to pay for it in repairs.]
[Triceratopssss: Man, you really should have won. That dive was so brilliant, especially the way you contorted your mech at the last moment.]
[TheSeventhSnake: Nah, I deserve that loss. I was too caught up in the moment to realize the Fantasiaapos;s legs couldnapos;t possibly penetrate the shell of an Excelsior.]
For all his practice sessions, he still lacked the maturity and experience of an actual pilot. He was still young, so he could afford to make those kinds of mistakes.
[Triceratopssss: So how was the Seraphim? Do you regret buying it?]
[TheSeventhSnake: Itapos;s definitely worth it, though I canapos;t say the same for everyone. It has a very uneven performance. As long as you have enough energy, itapos;s great, but if you run out, youapos;re dead. I have a feeling Iapos;m not going to be finished performing diving attacks.]
[Triceratopssss: Yeah it would suck if you have to face off against a heavy mech again. They could just tire you out. So how does it compare to your other flight mechs?]
[TheSeventhSnake: The firepower isnapos;t the best. Itapos;s fast and agile, but it came at a cost to armor and endurance. Itapos;s the perfect long-ranged harasser, but thereapos;s other mechs that can do the same job a little better. Still I like this mech. Its really beautiful and I love the cloud generator. It makes me want to pilot this mech all day.]
[Triceratopssss: Do you mind if I share the replay with the others?]
[TheSeventhSnake: Haha sure. Do what you want.]
While TheSeventhSnake dove back into the arena, Triceratopssss sent the replay to his friends with a note to check out the new variant. Not everyone watched it, as a lot of them were not in the game or werenapos;t interested. Those that did found the Seraphim to be a very impressive looking variant of the old Fantasia. Only when they searched for the mech in the market place did they receive a fright. Some of them even left disparaging comments in the mechapos;s store page.
quot;8800 gold a piece? I donapos;t even earn that much in a year!quot;
quot;Whoever pays 3300 credits for this underspecced mech is an idiot.quot;
quot;Fucking get your brain checked you greedy price gouger!quot;
quot;This mech is too sexist! Thereapos;s no reason at all enlarge its front chest. Mechs donapos;t wear bras!quot;
Some of these potentates forwarded the replay to their other friends and mentioned the Seraphimapos;s price. This caused a further ripple in admiration over the mechapos;s beauty and scorn over its price. In the end, the sensation died down and nobody took the plunge to purchase the mech.
He chose to ascend straight up and chose a random, mid-sized skyscraper to land upon. The roof offered plenty of space but very little cover. The Seraphim turned off its wings before extending its hair sensors.
This time TheSeventhSnake maintained a passive scan. Essentially he just extended his mechapos;s ears and hoped to catch a sound made by the enemy. This time he wanted to get a drop on his enemy. If he could take the time to make his first shot, he might be able to cripple the VFapos;s wings.
He stayed patient as five minutes passed. The time limit for a solo battle was 30 minutes so he had plenty of time to spare. He was prepared to stand there and wait 25 minutes if necessary. He really couldnapos;t relax against an opponent with such an impressive win record.
The sweat trickled down the back of his neck as he continued waiting patiently. The alarm at the thirteenth minute almost threw him off the seat.
Nevertheless, the almost perfectly random distribution of shots threw the vulture off-guard for a second time. Since even the Seraphimapos;s pilot couldnapos;t predict where his shots landed, his opponent could forget about figuring out a pattern.
The exchange continued on for a handful of minutes. The VF-5 appeared miserable as its chassis sported a lot of scorch marks and ran low on ammunition. It succeeded in preserving its important systems, only suffering major damage to its massive wings. The vulture was built to be robust among the fliers, so even if it lost half its wings, it still maintained its capability to stay afloat.
The Seraphim on the other hand survived the sporadic barrage of solid projectiles with a few dents. It suffered an unlucky hit at the end when a cannon shell managed to hit the rifle. The impact and subsequent explosion irretrievably wrecked the weapon, leaving the lightly armed Seraphim without a ranged weapon.
quot;Just as well. I only have a third of my energy left.quot;
Both sides knew it this match would be decided up close. The Seraphim ceased running, turned around and approached the VF-5 cautiously while unsheathing its combat knife. The rainbow cloud spurting from its rear gave the angelic mech a majestic appearance, as if it was a queen that claimed the skies as its domain.
The VF-5 let out an indignant cry from its beak as it accelerated in a sudden fashion, eager to challenge the interloper. While its half-wrecked wings reduced the power of its flight, its plentiful thrusters still provided a substantial amount of explosive acceleration. The vulture flew out with its sharp and menacing claws stretched out. The force of its approach enough to wreck any Fantasia-based chassis in a head-on collision.
TheSeventhSnake flitted to the side and used his superior agility in the air to keep his mech safe. He swiped the VF-5 with his combat knife, scoring occasional hits but unable to deal any critical damage. The cloud generator spurted out so many colorful clouds that the streets were almost completely obscured. This didnapos;t affect either mechapos;s performance, as they both switched to alternate vision modes that could easily see through the clouds of vapor.
Somehow the VF-5apos;s pilot managed to orient his mech in a way that presented its most armored portion towards the Seraphim. This let the VF-5 use its abundant armor to block the small knife.
If the Seraphimapos;s arms possessed more power and carried a better weapon, then it would have carved the VF-5 apart by now. Instead, it had to dodge the VF-5apos;s fatal claw strikes with every approach, suffering a few glancing blows in return, one of which simply sheared off both its legs at the knees.
TheSeventhSnake felt constricted, and as his energy reserves fell to the last 10%, he again staked odds to a final blow. He stopped dodging sideways and flew towards the VF-5 head-on. The vulture noted the change in strategy and extended its claws and its beak in anticipation.
At the last moment, the Seraphim chose to dodge to the bottom right, straight at one of the VF-5apos;s claws. The reinforced limb tore through the Seraphimapos;s thin armor plating. The angelic mechapos;s head crunched loose while its torso had been sliced half-way through, disabling countless essential systems.
The VF-5 suffered catastrophic damage in return. The Seraphimapos;s combat knife sunk deep in its chest armor, and while it suffered little damage so far, the close-ranged strike possessed enough momentum to carve through its plates. Red liquid leaked out of the gaps.
The Seraphim had succeeded in piercing the cockpit with its last gambit. Both mechs lost their propulsion and fell.
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