Chapter 33: Performance
The Rosario she crafted out of the pile of junk also looked too good to be true. Despite its undersized legs and arms, Patricia somehow managed to keep the mechapos;s weight under control. The medium mechapos;s main feature was its modified shield. Patricia took a regular kite shield, made it a little thicker and added a lot of spikes and sharp edges to it. She turned the shield into a melee weapon no weaker than a sword.
Its other arm held a flamethrower, which fed off the fuel cells installed on the mechapos;s back. They were cellular, which meant that each fuel cell was detached once it ran out of fuel. It was a good way to keep the mechapos;s weight under control, though it suffered from it at the start. The Rosario offered no other offensive options besides a backup knife and pistol strapped to its back. The mech weighed lighter than most other medium mechs on display so far, especially once its fuel cells ran out.
In contrast, everyone else including Ves just wanted to cram as much in their mechs, so if they chose to go with a mediumweight, it always weighed close to the maximum allowance.
quot;I bet the Rosario is going to make it to the end.quot;
Carlos laughed at that. quot;Iapos;d be a fool if I take you on that bet.quot;
quot;Why not? The Rosarioapos;s only armed with a flamethrower and a spiked shield. Itapos;s
quot;Patricia isnapos;t stupid. I think her mech is going to surprise all of us.quot;
When Hans directed the Rosario out of the gates, he immediately came under fire. A small ambush had been set at the start of the gauntlet. A lot of mechs would suffer severe damage with all the incoming laser and cannon fire. Hans utilized the Rosarioapos;s remarkable mobility to dodge the initial volleys and moved his shield in front to block what he couldnapos;t avoid. As Hans successfully reached cover, he managed to preserve his undersized and under-armored legs.
quot;That was close!quot; Carlos said as he was already sucked into the race. quot;Do you think Hans is going to turn the tables on them?quot;
Ves shook his head even before Hans sneaked away. The mech possessed enough mobility to do so without attracting too much attention. Also, so long as the Rosario kept its flamethrower in reserve, the mech kept its heat profile under control, making it difficult to detect out of line of sight.
Hans actually progressed three entire kilometers into the gauntlet without getting caught. It showcased Patriciaapos;s unwavering faith in her mech and the pilot in designing a lighter than usual mediumweight mech. The Rosario also possessed unusually long-ranged sensors, whose functioning had been tweaked to detect enemies further at the cost of longevity. Nevertheless, it lasted long enough for the gauntlet.
Only an unusually high concentration of enemy mechs stopped the Rosario from sneaking its way throughout the entire gauntlet. With no other choice, Hans dove into the group of enemies and activated the flamethrower.
quot;There comes the first obstacle.quot;
The gauntletapos;s reputation for nail-biting arduousness did not exempt flyers. If anyone thought a flying mech would get a free pass by flying really high in the air in order to reach ten kilometers in a minute or two, they were wrong. The gauntlet adjusted to flying mechs with a little cheating by changing most of the light and medium mechs with flight-capable versions. The heavy mechs that remained received no change, as they were quite capable of throwing an incredible amount of ordnance at any flier that was foolish enough to fly around in the open air.
Hans encountered a couple of formation of fliers. He reacted to their appearance by diving low and using the structures as a way to cut their line of sight and interrupt their firing lines. Through a mix of hit-and-run tactics and luring the enemy out of position, the Sky Ripper masterfully decomposed a large group of flyers into a bunch of wrecks and disoriented machines. The Sky Ripperapos;s dominance relied on its impressive flight system, its unparalleled flexibility and its aerial speed dominance over the clunkier light mechs.
When the Sky Ripper went all out, it utilized two devastating ways to tear its opponents apart. First, the beak of the avian mech opened up to reveal a compact cannon. It didnapos;t fire a lot due to the limited ammunition the light mech carried, but every shot made at close range felled a light mech. Its second option to kill were its incredibly sharp talons. Edwin modified them with sharpened armored spikes that allowed each swoop and diving attack to tear straight through the thin armor of flying mechs.
The only mechs that presented a threat to Edwinapos;s masterful implementation of a flyer were the heavy mechs on the ground. While the urban environment posed many problems in firing at the low-flying Hans, they still utilized their indirect fire weapons to great effect, especially missiles. Benefiting from the sensors locks the light mechs maintained on the Sky Ripper, the many missiles honed in on Hans as if a hive of bees got enraged by a bear that stole their honey.
The Sky Ripper responded by spreading its wings and firing rapid-firing lasers at the missiles. Edwin somehow managed to strip most of the housing of laser weapons and mount them on the wings with minimal weight impact. He furthermore linked them to a set of high quality targeting sensors embedded in the thin mechapos;s chest. Hans was able to rely on the auto targeting to shoot down most of the missiles while keeping his attention focused on evading or killing the flyers.
Hans easily reached the end of the gauntlet after suffering only superficial damage.
quot;The Sky Ripper absolutely smashed the gauntlet!quot; The presenter went up the stage again and highlighted the eye-popping statistics. quot;Edwin has produced a virtual masterpiece, easily transforming a couple of parts into a coherent mech that dazzles the mind. Letapos;s give it up for Edwin McKinney everyone!quot;
Everyone present applauded Edwin, who still looked as if the event meant nothing to him. He easily beat Patriciaapos;s records and took absolute first place in the gauntlet runs. Everyone either admired him or wished they could take his place. Sadly Edwin kept his socialization to his circle of sycophants, making it difficult for other admirers to even come close.
Hans took a couple of mediocre mechs out on a spin, this time showing that reaching Edwin and Patriciaapos;s level was difficult. Ves thought back on the performance of the two mechs and had to admit they had a much better grasp on the fundamentals than him. It really showed in how well the two integrated the components seamlessly into a whole, while Ves forced his jury rigging skills to forcefully fuse different components.
Ves could claim superiority in only one aspect. He designed his mech with a focus on the X-Factor.
Edwinapos;s avian flier was a technical marvel that astounded the crowd with its high capabilities. However, outside of its great build, Ves felt the mech was a lifeless brick. Edwin invested virtually no emotions in its construction, as if the mech was nothing but dirt underneath his feet. Even Patricia did better than him, as she put a tiny bit of care in her own creation.
He shook his head. The X-Factor might be fine and dandy, but the bottom line was that strength trumped over everything. Who cared if the X-Factor allowed pilots to make the most out of their mech if it was built out of paper.
quot;On to our next contestant, this bad boy here is the Drake, designed by Ves Larkinson. I love the mix. Iapos;m looking forward to see what Hans can magic up with this beast!quot;
This was the moment Ves had been waiting for. It was do or die. All Ves could do now was to pray for Hans and hope his mech held together long enough to make it to the end.
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