Chapter 37: Kirby
No matter how many times Ves tried to explain it, the pilot kept sticking to her stance. He understood then that to Charlotte, her Kirbyapos;s health was more important than even getting one up over the hated Miranda.
quot;Maybe weapos;ve gone off the wrong foot. Letapos;s try this a different way.quot; Ves said in a conciliatory tone. quot;Tell me more about your Kirby.quot;
quot;Whyapos;d you wanna know that?quot; Charlotte looked at him with suspicion.
quot;Weapos;ve got two hours of time left and maybe I can make a few tweaks here and there if youapos;d let me. The only way I can do that is if I know more about the mech and be able to suggest improvements in line with your thoughts.quot;
Though she showed she still had misgivings about it, when it came to her mech, she felt better if she bragged about the Kirby. quot;I won the top marksmanship prize in the academy tournament. They loaned me the Kirby as the first place prize. Itapos;s the best mech Iapos;ve ever piloted so far. Heapos;s an old training mech, but heapos;s got the best specs among the heavies in terms of firepower.quot;
Charlotte went on and on as she gushed about the mechapos;s substantial firepower. She really obsessed over the ability to turn an enemy mech into Swiss cheese before they even reached her. Ves thought the reason why she personalized the Kirby so much wasnapos;t because she considered the mech a person, but that its weapon loadout featured tons more firepower than all the other piddling mechs she practiced with. In her words, those smaller medium and light mechs were pansies.
quot;I think I see what you want.quot; Ves nodded his head. quot;Your training mech is a great fire support mech, but Miranda is going to destroy you with her sword again if you go on stage with the same mech. You have to plug your vulnerability to close ranged mechs if you want to stand a chance of winning the cup.quot;
quot;I donapos;t want you ruining my Kirby.quot;
quot;No no, Iapos;ve got something different in mind. Iapos;d like to install some temporary additions to the Kirby. What do you say about bolting more guns to the Kirbyapos;s frame?quot;
The prospect of even more guns exciting Charlotte a bit, and after Ves detailed his plans based on the Kirbyapos;s build and the available parts, she enthusiastically gave her approval.
As a Turbofire model, its design had proven itself over the years as a sturdy and reliable way to deliver heavy firepower. It featured a large, stocky bipedal build, allowing it to hide behind hills or structures and fire its weapons over the top without exposing itself excessively. Its main weapons were its two heavy cannons that took the place of the arms. This left the Turbofire with a well-integrated pair of weapons that could easily be fired around corners and over other obstacles. Naturally, this also prevented the mech from wielding external weapons such as rifles or swords.
Though much of the mech was devoted to supporting the two cannons, the mech also featured twin laser shoulder mounts. Each mount carried three medium-powered lasers and normally fired in rapidfire mode in order to take down missiles and light mechs.
The Turbofire design incorporated extra large and extra sophisticated sensors. Their best feature was their strengthened targeting systems, allowing the laser mounts to fire more accurately at fast-moving targets. Charlotte always relied on the autonomous shoulder mounts to take care of rushing mechs.
Their relatively low-tech and self-contained natures meant that mounting the launchers carrying the rockets was as simple as welding a metal box to a surface. Ves installed three separate launchers on the Kirbyapos;s broad back in a slightly angled, semi-circular arrangement. The middle launcher pointed its rockets straight ahead, while the two launchers to the side angled a bit to the left and right respectively. This eliminated the Kirbyapos;s blind spots. Naturally, the actual installation was a bit more complicated than described, but he still managed to hook up the launcher systems to the Kirbyapos;s operating system.
quot;Heh.quot; Miranda arrogantly trash talked, not even bothering to keep her conversation private. quot;I whooped your ass once, Iapos;ll whoop it again.quot;
quot;Oh yeah? Well I got a few surprises ready. Iapos;ll spank you and send you back to your mom if you think you can get the drop on me again.quot;
Ves just palmed his face. Why did it seem like he was back in high school? Coincidentally, he looked at Patricia, who looked similarly exasperated. Mech designers possessed cooler minds. They had to in order to endure the mind-numbing texts they had to read. Mech pilots on the other hand favored boldness and intuition. Too much thinking led to hesitation, which was not at all desirable when shells and missiles flew above the pilotapos;s head.
In any case, the signal went green. Mirandaapos;s female mech exploded into action, moving rapidly in a zig-zag motion in order to confuse Charlotteapos;s aim. Her mechapos;s highly advanced ECM systems pumped into action. Other auxiliary systems made their presence known as well. One module caused distortions to appear in the naked eye, the result of a special smoke that hindered optical targeting systems and fed them a whole bunch of garbage data.
However, Charlotte showed the audience that she wasnapos;t a heavy gunner specialist for nothing. Without waiting for her targeting systems to punch through Mirandaapos;s ECM, she fired her cannons and lasers in a wide spread without fine-tuning her aim. The chaotic spread of laser beams and projectiles failed to hit Miranda, but some of it came close to damaging her just by proximity.
Miranda stopped fooling around and circled her way forward at an oblique angle, always making sure she never closed the distance in a direct path that allowed for easy hits. Despite Charlotteapos;s prodigious firepower, none of her weapons hit. Only when Miranda reached halfway did she suffer minor damage to her mechapos;s legs when an explosive shell detonated a bit too close. It peeled a few layers of armor but nothing more.
quot;I told you Charlotte, youapos;ll always be beneath me!quot;
Charlotte appeared to have panicked a little and overloaded her laser mounts. The weapons pushed past their maximum cycles and fired until the launchers overheated. Ves winced as he thought how troublesome it was to repair the launchers. Overheating affected laser weapons a bit more severely than other components due to the high demands of integrity the weapons required. If the focusing elements were a little bit off, then what the barrels spat out wasnapos;t a tight beam, but a wide spread that felt more like a tanning machine than a deadly weapon.
Miranda suffered a number of hits not just due to the increased frequency of shots but also due to the shorter distance. Getting closer meant her profile grew in Charlotteapos;s targeting vision. This increased the heavy mechapos;s chances of hitting the light mech.
However, as Miranda continued to close the distance, the hit rates decreased even as the lasers kept their frantic firing. Her mechapos;s sideways dodging increased the amount of degrees Charlotte had to adjust her aim once the distance between the two narrowed.
It was like the difference between shooting a clay pigeon five meters away and fifty meters away. If the clay pigeon was thrown in the air from a distance, the shooter only needed to shift his weapon a couple of degrees at most to track the projectile. If the clay pigeon flew a lot closer, then the shooter might even be forced to turn his body over a hundred degrees single second.
Heavy mechs notoriously turned their mechs slowly. Even the Turbofireapos;s large but sluggish laser mounts failed to keep up with Mirandaapos;s mech.
quot;Haha, if you think Iapos;m going to fall for your stupid trick, then think again! My partnerapos;s not blind and neither am I!quot;
Mirandaapos;s mech struck out with her sword as she kept to the sides of Kirby. Ves was afraid of that. While the Kirby posed a lot of threat at its front and rear arcs, the sides could not be covered by any weapons. Patricia must have recognized what Ves cobbled up and reminded Miranda of the threat to Kirbyapos;s rear.
However, just because Ves was afraid of the option didnapos;t mean he or Charlotte anticipated the action. Ves passed on a tactic he learned from the online adventures of his cousin Melinda to his partner, hoping she could utilize it at the right time.
As the sword was about to hit Kirbyapos;s arm, Charlotte chose to retaliate by forcefully detaching the nearest laser launcher. The overheated component blocked and foiled Mirandaapos;s sword strike, causing the light mech to pause. In the meantime, Charlotte successfully used the time she bought to turn her mech about forty-five degrees, enough for one of her rocket launchers to face the gobsmacked feminine mech.
The launcher disgorged its entire complement of rockets practically right at point-blank range.
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