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Chapter 1973 Overconfidence

The Mech Touch
     Chapter 1973 Overconfidence

    What little material Gloriana and Calabast provided to him had given him a shallow but very informative glimpse of how the Komodo War was being fought.

    The two women didn't provide him with the doctored and heavily-edited propaganda footage that the two states tended to leak onto the galactic net.

    For the first time, Ves obtained reliable snippets of raw footage where he could see what was actually going on at the frontlines.

    Contrary to his expectations, the Komodo War was fought just as hard on land as in space.

    Securing space supremacy was the most essential step to conquering a star system. As long as enemy forces kept entering the star system to harass the occupying elements, it was still considered to be in contention.

    This was no different from how the Bright-Vesia Wars were fought.

    However, different from the wars familiar to him, land battles gained a lot more importance when fought at a higher level.

    This was because of the existence of specialized artillery mechs capable of shooting down elements in orbit!

    No matter if it was a mech or a ship, as long as the atmospheric conditions weren't too bad when they were floating in orbit, they could be targeted at any moment from any point on the planet!

    It was bad enough when artillery mechs fired at the orbital elements on the surface. It was worse when they fired from a fortified bunker or a hidden underground tunnel!

    Though the mechs in orbit were often capable of retaliating at the offending shooter within seconds, the damage was already done by the time they aimed their weapons in the right direction!

    What was truly menacing to orbital elements were the aquatic mechs hiding in large bodies of water!

    Even to the second-rate states, it was very difficult to damage a mech hiding under a lot of water.

    Aquatic artillery mechs were larger than their landbound variants. Part of it was because the aquatic environment made them more manageable. Another part of it was because they needed to be big in order to handle all of the water pressure when they dove deep.

    Regardless, their immense volume provided them with a lot of capacity, which meant they mounted some of the heaviest and most formidable cannons that could be mounted on a mech!

    Though the effectiveness of these artillery mechs varied, their threat level against orbital assets often made it untenable for invaders to retain orbital supremacy.

    Without sufficient control over a planet, the population could just bunker down and survive indefinitely! The less important planets in the Coalition and the Hegemony often featured fortified underground tunnels and fortifications that could house the populations in a pinch.

    More sophisticated planets featured entire underground cities that were almost as good as the cities on the surface! With all of the technology and wealth at their disposal, the Fridaymen and Hexers invested heavily in building up the underground societies of their planets.

    The border systems were especially rife with underground fortifications!

    It was not very viable for spaceborn forces to defeat all of these fortifications. In order to gain true control of a planet, the invaders had to transfer a lot of boots on the ground.

    The battles for control of a planet therefore proceeded especially bloody. Sure, this didn't sound that much different from the battles of the Bright-Vesia Wars, but in the Komodo War the defenders possessed an overwhelming defensive advantage.

    The centuries-long accumulation combined with the neutralization of orbital supremacy meant that the attacking force had to dispatch an enormous amount of landbound forces to the surface in order to wrest control from the fortified defenders.

    These battles potentially lasted for months or even years as the defenders continually made the attackers pay for every patch of ground! Mechs continually fell and mech pilots were always forced to fight with just a minimal amount of rest. The attrition that took place during these battles was exceptionally brutal!

    In these circumstances, the Fridaymen and Hexers still fought as if their lives depended on it! Ves truly admired their discipline and willingness to fight for their cause.

    Yet… as much as the Hexers on the ground tried to maintain their spirits, there were eventually times when the pressure got the better of them. While the Hex Soldiers all received excellent training, they still possessed a lot of human frailties!

    When the Hexers reached their limits, they often lost their marbles.

    This isn't normal. Ves insisted to Gloriana. I may not be a mech pilot, but I've been through war. I even experienced situations where everything was falling apart. While I don't mean to equate my own limited experiences to the horrors your soldiers are going through, there is still a flaw in the way you train your soldiers.

    Gloriana separated from Ves and crossed her arms. She was not happy with his criticism!

    The Hex Army is our finest military force! A long line of revered matriarchs and generals has shaped it into a war machine that is capable of fighting head-on against all of the partners of the Friday Coalition and come out ahead! I sincerely doubt that your limited experience is superior to all of the accumulated wisdom of our professional military leaders!

    Even the smartest people were stupid. Not everyone was all-knowing. The Hexers never fought an actual war after the founding of their state. They spent centuries in relative peace as they stared across the border at the Fridaymen while they were constantly theorizing how the war between their states would proceed!

    As extensively as they planned out their war, the Hexers inevitably made a lot of assumptions when they outlined their war plans and formulated their doctrines.

    If there was one good thing Ves could say about the Bright Republic, it was that his state learned to cope with frequent wars the hard way!

    Look, just hear me out, Gloriana. You Hexers fight well when the battles are in your favor. You Hexers fight valiantly when the battles are even. It's when your Hex Soldiers are in a disadvantage that the problems arise! Whenever I watch the uncensored footage, I can't help but compare the conduct of Hexers to Fridaymen under pressure. The differences become very clear.

    The Fridaymen seemed to possess a much more sober outlook on the war. They accepted their losses with grace and always sought to retreat in good order.

    Retreat was not a shame to the Fridaymen. Perhaps this was because of the history of its founding. The Friday Coalition essentially formed after the original nine partners had been beaten black and blue by the predecessors of the Hexers.

    Forming their second-rate state out of a coalition of partners was a desperation move. Fortunately for them, they succeeded in blocking the relentless Hexer aggression.

    With this history in mind, the Fridaymen were much more tolerant when it came to suffering a loss. The founders of their state had all adopted a loser's mentality.

    Though much of their lack of confidence had faded over the centuries, the Fridaymen still treated the Hexers as a very powerful existential threat!

    In contrast, the female supremacists continued to cling on the winner's mentality they acquired after they founded their state. The Hexers all thought that the only reason they failed to defeat the Friday Coalition was because the partners cheated and ganged up on them. If not for this course of events, the Hexers would have long dominated the Komodo Star Sector!

    I think the fatal flaw you Hexers suffer from is overconfidence. Ves stated. Though Gloriana reacted badly to his remark, he was not deterred! Everytime I hear you or other Hexers talk about the war, you people seem to think the Komodo War is as good as done! However, can you really describe the current state of the war as a walk in the park?

    His girlfriend directed a puzzled look at him. But the Fridaymen are weaker than us. Their society is flawed, their partners are fractured, their leaders are corrupt and their soldiers don't have any ideals!

    Ves was speechless. He didn't know what to say. He thought his girlfriend was clever enough to realize that the Hexers were in for a brutal war where the winner was anything but certain.

    Instead, she talked as if the Hexers would surely be able to overrun the Friday Coalition

    He decided to gloss past her insanely unrealistic assumptions.

    Let me tell you about the glow I have in mind for you Hexers. What you Hexers need is a pillar of support. It's not enough to fight for some abstract ideals. It's not enough to fight for their fellow Hexers. Your Hex Soldiers need a more immediate but aspirational reason to fight for. When the laser beams are whizzing past your head and the artillery bombardment is about to land on your position, almost everything apart from what is ingrained in your body disappears. The Hex Soldiers are only left with their training, their instincts and their primal emotions.

    Gloriana grew impatient. Get to the point, Ves. What is the glow that you think will supposedly cure us of our supposed flaws?

    Ves activated his comm and projected an image.

    Hexism revolves around respecting the phases of life, death, godhood, damnation, dust and women, right?

    She nodded. At least you remember your lessons.

    It's hard to forget the details now that I have my Archimedes Rubal implant. Ves joked. Anyway, I've been thinking a bit. Even though it's not a universally-accepted faith in your state, it's still familiar to every Hexer. I think I can find a way to adapt the core belief of hexism in a mech. It would be like a moving altar of hexism that provides emotional succor and support in a time when the Hex Soldiers most need them. I'm not sure whether I'll be able to prevent them from breaking under the pressure, but I think that offering a light in the midst of darkness can make a very significant impact during the battles that matter.

    Gloriana no longer looked angry or confused. As she took in his words, she began to think how such a mech might impact a battle.

    I… think this is quite intriguing. While I can't say I support it, I'm willing to give you a chance. She said as if her approval was absolutely mandatory for Ves to proceed! I'm concerned about leaving you in charge of forming the proto-god. Do you realize what you are doing? If anything, I should be the one who forms the proto-god!

    You know that's not possible, Gloriana.

    Then find a way!

    That was easier said than done! Ves could do nothing else but nod, because he knew she would never budge on this matter!

    Privately, Ves didn't think he had any hope to succeed. Gloriana simply didn't possess the aptitude to manipulate spirituality at his level.

    What mech type have you chosen, Ves? Gloriana asked next. A mech like this sounds very useful, but the Hex Army doesn't accept ornamental mechs. It has to possess more than just a helpful glow.

    This is my first true second-class mech. Considering the overall intent behind my design, I think a knight mech is the most fitting vessel of this glow. Although I often like to be adventurous, I think it's best for me to stick with what I'm best at in order to gain the approval of your fellow Hexers. I just know that you women will scrutinize every single aspect of my design in order to find some excuse to disqualify it or put it down.

    Gloriana grinned. You know us too well, Ves. We're very strict about our mechs for a reason, Ves. It's a bit unfortunate that mechs designed by males are so rare in the Hegemony. Even if our work is reserved for DIVA, You can't avoid a lot of scrutiny. That just means we'll have to do our best to design the most perfect mech possible, isn't that right? Hihihi!