Chapter 2224 Decisive
The Battle of Xiphard Base ultimately did not lead to the massive losses that the Larkinson Clan had feared.
With much of its defenses and secret weapons crippled, the Crona Lords stood no chance against the Penitent Sisters.
Their mechs, despite outnumbering the second-class mechs by five-to-one, only served to give the exiled Hexers more exercise.
The mech pilots of the Crona Lords mostly died in vain.
Their feeble attacks did not cross the threshold that allowed them to overcome the superior armor of their opponents.
Certainly, with quantity they might have been able to circle around and attack the weak points of the Penitent Sister mechs, but they needed at least twice or thrice as much mechs to pull off such a plan.
The reinforcing mechs of the Allidus Alliance fared little better.
Even though the Avatars had finally met their match for once, the Larkinson Clan had brought more forces.
Commander Dise clevlerly recognized an opportunity to hammer the Allidus mechs from the flanks despite the modest number of her Swordmaidens.
That left only the assault on the trade and escort vessels of the small Allidus convoy fleet.
The cargo vessels served little use in battle, but the light and medium carriers constantly pushed the Living Sentinels back.
The reason Many of the pirate ships were armed!
The three considerably powerful destroyer-grade Judgement Lasers forced the Living Sentinels to escape from their line of fire.
Though the Judgement Lasers were well-protected in their recessed bow positions, this also meant that the medium carriers that mounted them had to rotate their entire hulls in order to aim their unwieldy weapons.
As long as the Living Sentinel mechs attacked from the rear, there was no risk of getting taken out by a massive laser!
Yet as the Living Sentinels discovered at the cost of dozens of mechs and almost just as many lives, the Allidus escort vessels held more weapons in reserve!
Only a handful of mechs remained to cover the ships.
When Ves and Major Verle saw that the Allidus Alliance had foolishly dispatched too many of their mechs away, they thought the pirates overestimated their capabilities.
It turned out that Lord Drogen did have something to rely on after all.
From secondary batteries that fired slugs at a rate of fire that equaled the output of a mech squad to strange missiles that created localized anomalies, the Living Sentinels who confronted all of this unorthodox firepower became confused.
Get your heads back together, Sentinels! Commander Magdalena Larkinsons admonished her flagging mech pilots.
Those ships aren\'t as formidable as you think! Keep your distance and take out the exposed weapon batteries one-by-one.
Don\'t come close.
There was no telling what might happen if hundreds of melee mechs swarmed the armed vessels.
The Allidus Alliance had already shown that it did not respect the taboos set by the Big Two.
In the Sentinel Commander\'s opinion, such people were capable of doing anything.
Though the casualties suffered by the Living Sentinels distressed Ves a bit, he knew that the pirate ships did not have the power to stop hundreds of Sentinel mechs.
The carrier vessels weren\'t true warships.
The weapons mounted on them at various places on their hull were jury-rigged in place by force.
In terms of energy supply, ammunition, protection and other factors, the weapons no longer threatened the Living Sentinels once they got their act together.
With methodical and coordinated ranged attacks, the relatively stationary weapon batteries were easily focused down.
When even the thick layers of hull plating around the Judgement Lasers no longer held, the formidable weapons which managed to take out a Penitent Sister mech in a single shot no longer existed.
After stripping the vessels of all of their weapons and shooting their exterior sub-light propulsion systems into pieces, the Larkinson Clan successfully disarmed and immobilized the Allidus trade convoy!
Yet despite surrounding the pirate ships, the Living Sentinels received strict orders not to approach.
Ves stood up from his chair and hailed the flagship of the Allidus trade fleet once again.
When the oddly-dressed pirate commander appeared once again, he didn\'t look nearly as confident than before.
You dare to affront the Allidus Alliance.
You do not know the gravity of the mistakes that you have made. Lord Drogen hissed as his projection seemed to cross across distances in order to bore a hole through Ves.
Lord Hivex has already been informed of your..
I\'m scared. Ves flatly replied.
Now can we get all of the bluster and posturing and discuss the terms of your surrender As a rule-abiding galactic citizen, I give you my word that I will keep you and your men alive while affording you the dignity that you do not deserve.
You are more valuable to the Peacekeeper Association alive than dead.
You think you can force me onto my knees Hah! Grow a beard before you talk big! Lord Drogen snorted and began to tap his fingers onto a console out of the sight of the projection.
Make no mistake.
Retribution is assured and will not take long in coming.
The Big Two may reign over civilized space, but our asteroid-filled void shall forever remain free!
The tone that the pirate leader adopted reminded Ves awfully of fanatics.
A very grave possibility came to mind.
Wait a minute, Lord Drogan! Let\'s not be hasty here! All of your men don\'t need to suffer from your mistakes!
Lord Drogen contemptuously sneered at Ves.
You may think little of us pirates, but we have our own honor.
Lord Hivex! Forgive us for failing in our mission! Let us serve you one last time.
During the pirate commander\'s decisive speech, Major Verle had already hastily commanded the Living Sentinel mechs to withdraw from the crippled Allidus trade vessels.
He did so just in time, as all of the cargo vessels, light carriers and medium carriers blew up in huge explosions that churned the surrounding space!
A rain of debris and metal chunks spread in every direction as the self-destruct mechanisms tore every ship apart from their insides!
Ves ached at the sight.
Lord Drogen differed from typical pirates.
The Allidus Alliance seemed to be an extraordinary pirate organization that managed to instill great loyalty and devotion in its members.
They were similar to the Swordmaidens in that regard, but enjoyed much more success.
He missed the bottom feeder pirates of Wreckage Paradise.
At least the pirates there were always predictably craven.
The deeper Task Force Predator entered the Nyxian Gap, the greater the likelihood of stumbling upon the real powers who truly held sway over the dispersed but surprisingly interconnected pirate groups.
Ves regretted the loss of all of those Allidus ships.
Even if their weapon batteries had been destroyed, he wanted to take a peek at the remains and any schematics that were doubtlessly stored in the data banks of the vessels.
He also wanted to ransack the vessels for all of their juicy equipment and resources.
Unfortunately, Lord Drogen was far too loyal to the Allidus Alliance to surrender the valuable ships and trade goods his cargo vessels carried.
Ves was genuinely surprised that the pirate commander did not hesitate in initiating the self-destruct mechanisms when it became clear that his ships wouldn\'t be getting away!
Ves looked at Major Verle and Calabast.
Neither of them looked pleased.
It\'s fortunate that we were prudent enough to be on guard against this possibility. Major Verle spoke.
Pirates never meet a good end once they fall into the hands of a lawful group. Calabast added.
Lord Drogen knows that it is unlikely for him and his men to survive captivity and trial if they get to live long enough to be brought to court.
We have gathered abundant proof that they have deployed warship-grade weapons and prohibited gamma laser weapons.
The Big Two is never merciful when it comes to passing judgement on those who yearn to turn back time to humanity\'s darker age.
Verle agreed with her assessment.
Since they are marked for death regardless of what they do, a quick and imminent end is therefore the best possible course of action to take to Lord Drogen.
They are able to perform one last service to the Allidus Alliance by depriving us of our spoils, thereby gaining the appreciation of Lord Hivex.
This will make sure that the dependents they have left behind will be treated well.
Pirates were humans as well, and they possessed human needs.
Though the typical pirate consisted of a former outlaw or refugee who had forsaken all of their ties to the people they knew, that did not mean they remained alone in their pirate careers.
The more established pirates were much more likely to settle down and start a family, though their circumstances were very challenging, to say the least.
At some point, a pirate organization grew so powerful that they took on the form of a traditional power or state.
The Allidus Alliance was huge.
If all of their members consisted of single men and women, then it was doubtful if it could withstand the test of time!
Ves sighed and waved his hands.
Okay, we can discuss these issues later.
The battle may largely be over, but the fighting hasn\'t ceased.
There are plenty of stragglers that need to be hunted, and Xiphard Base is still in enemy hands.
Let\'s make sure the pirates don\'t rig something up that causes it to blow.
I want as many pirates to be taken alive as possible.
I believe the Crona Lords possess much less resolve to follow in the footsteps of the Allidus Alliance.
From the signal transmissions we have intercepted, it appears that Supreme Lord Roda is still alive and aboard one of the crippled carriers hovering in the vicinity of Xiphard Base.
That doesn\'t mean the engineers there are incapable of causing the ships to explode. Ves warned.
We are aware of the risks.
We will attempt to intimidate them into surrendering voluntarily.
Usually, surrounding the ships with lots of mechs is an effective way to break the nerves of trapped ship crew.
Even if Supreme Lord Roda became determined to go down with the ship, his fellow Crona Lords might not agree!
What about the base
We are deploying our infantry en masse in order to secure and pacify Xiphard Base.
While it wasn\'t a high priority, we made sure not to neglect the training and outfitting of our foot soldiers.
Even if the outcome of the Battle of Xiphard Base had become clear, tens of thousands of unruly pirates still remained alive on the crippled ships, defensive posts and the base itself.
As long as they were able to use tools and weapons, they could accomplish an untold amount of mischief before they surrendered!
This meant that pacifying them was a very high priority.
Ves did not want the desperate pirates to overload a power reactor, blow up an ammunition depot or vent all of the oxygen in Xiphard Base into space.
Their lives were precious to Ves! He already considered the soon-to-be-captured pirates to be one of his most valuable spoils of war.
He could not bear the thought of losing so much precious assets!
As the Larkinson forces started to wrap the battle up, Ves saw no need to supervise the remaining operations.
Make sure to tally our losses as well.
We will honor the clansmen and Penitent Sisters who have died.
The Battle of Xiphard Base ended in an overwhelming victory for the Larkinson Clan.
Yet Ves knew that much of his clansmen wouldn\'t see it that way.
For the first time since they entered the Nyxian Gap, Larkinsons had died.
Broken mechs could be fixed or replaced, but the loss of a precious mech pilot was not so easily remedied.
Ves looked down at the Larkinson Mandate resting on his lap.
The Golden Cat closely felt the deaths of the clansmen who fell in battle.
Her bond with them broke as their minds permanently turned silent and their spirits dissipated and moved to another realm.
Even Ves didn\'t know what happened after these valiant clansmen died.
He faintly hoped that at least a portion of their lives could be preserved through the Larkinson Network, but as he questioned the Golden Cat, it seems that not everyone could sustain a life after death like his mother.
It\'s okay, Goldie. He whispered and spiritually stroked her head.
Death is a natural consequence of life.
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