Chapter 1980 Positron-Electron Annihilation
The Battle of Bentheim stretched on for hours, then days. The sandman monoliths kept advancing to the critical planet which the aliens seemed hellbent on reaching!
Over the course of the battle, the Mech Corps, the Starfighter Corps and the myriad of domestic and foreign outfights learned one brutal lesson.
They were wholly outmatched.
The sandmen previously posed a considerable challenge to these forces. The general consensus that humans settled on was that the sandmen were individually weak, but extremely numerous and very willing to go all out to achieve their objectives!
Against weak and numerous enemies, the Bright Republic thought it was enough to bring numbers of their own in order to reduce the quantity disparity. For this reason, the government didn't hesitate to station over half of the entire Mech Corps and Starfighter Corps in the Bentheim System!
The military should have brought more mech divisions and starfighter divisions.
Where did these hellspawn obtain such good shielding technology?! Where are they getting all of the power needed to sustain these shields? It's as if we are attacking CFA warships instead of weak sandman monoliths!
Before the Battle of Bentheim, no one thought too highly of sandman monoliths. While they were big and formidable damage sponges, their lack of mobility and huge size meant that it was trivially easy to bombard it with a multitude of rounds and missiles!
The conventional strategy to defeat them was to deploy a large number of mechs and starfighters and shower the approaching threat with ordnance while flying backwards. This was where all of the footage and images of the so-called 'Stripes of Humanity' came about.
No such heroic sights occurred today. Part of it was because the many clashes had grown too chaotic and hectic to allow mechs to fight the upgraded sandman monoliths in orderly formations.
Another reason was that the Bright Republic had mostly phased out the Soldier product line!
This decision was mostly motivated by politics. Now that the Bright Republic aligned itself more closely to the Friday Coalition, the LMC's products had suddenly become poisonous.
Despite their incredible value, the government simply couldn't justify the continued use of mechs such as the Desolate Soldier, Prideful Soldier and Peaceful Soldier when their patron hated the designer to the core!
It's as egregious as piloting a mech designed by a Hexer!
Through various excuses, the government forced the military, the Planetary Guard organizations and the private sector to trade in their LMC mechs for recycling and reprocessing.
In exchange, the Bright Republic offered these forces replacement mechs that performed mildly to substantially better.
This trade scheme wasn't just a way to get rid of all of the LMC mechs circulating in the Bright Republic. It was also a way of upgrading the comprehensive strength of the defenders of Bentheim!
Initially, protests were fairly muted. Though the mech pilots of the LMC mechs had become very attached to their machines, the mech commanders and owners of the various outfits came around faster due to the easy profit they gained.
Yet now that mechs were falling left and right due to the multitude of positron beams raining down in their direction, morale throughout the entire system quickly dropped like a rock!
Ahhhh! Jimmy! Why did they take you?!
Help! Help! My escape pod is leaking air! Please rescue me! I can still pilot a spare mech!
Our ship! It's gone! Our home is gone!
An incredible amount of debris started to fling into space as mech after mech got wrecked in an instant after being struck by a powerful positron beam!
Positron beams weren't as fast as laser beams, but in these circumstances, the differences might as well be negligible!
Unlike ordinary laser beams which most mechs and starfighters could resist a couple of times as long as they didn't land on the spot, positron beams were completely different in terms of lethality!
Considered the evil goatee-wearing counterparts of electrons, these tiny antiparticles were incredibly light and possessed no other remarkable properties aside from their positive charge.
It was only after they collided with electrons that they started to reveal their amazing destructive potential!
In a material realm where negatively-charged electrons were predominant, antiparticles such as positrons were extremely deadly!
This was because of the phenomenon known as annihilation. Electrons and positrons both canceled each other out when they bumped into each other. The particles and antiparticles disappeared from the material realm, but due to the law of conservation of mass and energy, a lot of energy took their place!
In truth, a single electron and positron didn't release that much energy. Just someone lifting an arm in the air took more energy than the output of a single electron-positron annihilation reaction!
Yet the positron beams didn't just contain a single positron. It was packed with an uncountable amount of antiparticles, all accelerated towards their targets at relativistic or near-relativistic speeds!
No third-class mech could withstand a blow. Hardly any second-class mech escaped unscatched. Even first-class mechs encountered significant difficulties when subjected to sustained attacks!
The sandman monoliths recklessly discharged a humongous amount of energy at their targets! By now, the energies they unleashed was more than enough to destroy the planet of Bentheim dozens of times over!
Though the targeting systems of the monoliths hadn't been upgraded as well as their weapon systems, the alien dreadnoughts still managed to kill scores of mechs and starfighters before each of them could be overwhelmed!
We're bleeding assets at a rapid rate!
Hardly any mech or starfighter pilot is able to eject after being hit! The sandman positron beams are too lethal!
It's as if we are being attacked by the Fridaymen or Hexers!
In the first couple of hours, the forces that met the sandman monoliths in combat lost over half of their numbers!
This was a devastating loss! The savaged mech regiments and outfits were forced to keep their distance and attack the sandman monoliths at a far greater distance to reduce the effectiveness of their targeting somewhat. Through heavy jamming and several other methods, the positron beams failed to harvest as much lives as before.
However, the increased range also reduced the effectiveness and intensity of the attacks directed towards the monoliths, allowing the aliens greater room to advance!
What is the MTA doing?!
They're busy hunkering down while they attract the bulk of the sandman monoliths!
The sandman seemed to reserve most of their ire towards the stricken and heavily-outnumbered MTA task force! With their ships being raked by positron beam after positron beam, their mechs were finding it a lot harder to achieve success!
No! Save the Wolf Mother! Don't let her die!
It's too late, captain! Her engineering is gone! Colonel Lowenfield has ordered the crew to abandon ship!
The great factory ship had no place on the battlefield. Expecting a much lower-intensity conflict, the Flagrant Vandals and many other mech regiments had made a huge mistake in bringing their logistical vessels along!
Now, the giant, venerable ship that had produced or repaired much of the mechs of the Vandals was rolling chaotically along her axis. Her entire propulsion system and engineering section had disappeared when a sandman monolith targeted the slow-moving ship and kept attacking her. Even though a swarm of angry Vandal mechs finally overwhelmed its energy shield and destroyed it shortly afterwards, the damage was done!
Without her main means of sublight propulsion, the Wolf Mother turned into a sitting duck! Floating along a very predictable ballistic trajectory in space, anyone could hit the ship with ease!
The sandmen may not always be the brightest lifeforms around, but they were still smart enough to pounce on the opportunity!
The Wolf Mother had never been designed to withstand attacks. Though her huge structure and bulk offered her a form of protection in itself, in the end it only gave the sandmen more stuff to destroy!
Ahhh! Stop it you darned aliens!
Plenty of Vandals lost their emotions at the loss of so many comrades. Now that their biggest pillar of support was bleeding oxygen, energy and escape pods, many of them had started to snap!
Captain Orfan had briefly joined them in her grief, but she quickly sobered up when someone told her something important!
Major Verle said Colonel Lowenfield is out of contact! We can't find her escape pod among the ones that escaped the derelict Wolf Mother! A communications officer hollered in the channel.
Who's in command and what are my orders?!
For now, Major Verle has assumed command of the Vandals, ma'am! Your orders are to rally the remnants of the mech companies and led them back to our surviving combat carriers!
We can't retreat! There are too many monoliths we need to kill! Tell Verle we need reinforcements!
There are no reinforcements, captain! Our starfighter screen has almost disappeared and most of the other reserve forces are already confronting the sandmen elsewhere! According to the tactical situation, we don't have the numbers to stop the dozens of monoliths barreling their way forward!
Our sacrifice won't mean anything! We need to retract our lines and regroup!
Her fist slammed against the armrest of her piloting seat!
Though she tried her best to block it out, she couldn't forget about the names and faces of the fallen. Too many of her fellow Vandals had succumbed against the sandmen!
No matter how tough their Novabreaker or other mechs were designed to resist laser beams, none of them fared well when positron beams struck them head-on! In many cases, all of those layers of armor turned out to be completely useless!
Ironically, the light mechs with the thinnest armor fared best against the sandman monoliths! Their exceptional mobility allowed them to dodge and weave through most positron beam attacks! Their lack of armor didn't matter since getting hit even once already spelled the doom of a mech unless it belonged to a higher class!
Over the course of the running battle, high command eventually ordered a general retreat. The human forces needed to concentrate their surviving forces!
However, many saw these actions as futile because shrinking the defensive circle also allowed the sandman monoliths to tighten their envelopment!
Not everyone was willing to fight on behalf of Bentheim and the Bright Republic.
Where are you going?! We paid you to fight!
You cowards! I'll make sure to shame you to death by posting your flight on the galactic net!
Hahaha! The Comm Consortium already blocked us out! There's no way you can stop us from leaving! Sorry Brighters, but we have done enough! We're outta here!
Without the glows of the Desolate Soldiers, the private outfits crumbled exceptionally quickly.
None of them signed up to fight a pitched battle, let alone an overwhelming struggle against an immensely powerful doomsday armada!
The soldiers of the Mech Corps and the Starfighter Corps watched with despair as the various private outfits reneged on their contracts and fled the battlefield by heading upwards or downwards from the ecliptic plane!
The sandman monoliths mostly arrived in the Bentheim System in a flat circle. While this made it unwise to go through them, there was nothing blocking the way of the mercenaries as long as they flew straight up or straight downwards!
The longer the slaughter proceeded, the greater the attraction of these obvious escape routes!
Even the soldiers in the service of the Bright Republic started to lose heart in the battle.
Why were they fighting so hard?
Had the sacrifices of their comrades accomplished anything?
Was there a point to continuing to resist the alien advance?
Their morale, which hadn't been the steadiest before the start of the battle, started to become more turbulent as the general retreat struck a huge blow to their confidence.
With the MTA task force in dire straits, the doom throughout the star system spread like wildfire!
Was this the end of Bentheim? Would the Bright Republic become a crippled state after this day?
Watch out! There's a huge portal emerging next to the planet!
It's the MTA! They finally came to reinforce us! We're saved!
An MTA destroyer in high orbit slowly began to form a portal. Its circumference much larger than anything the Brighters had ever seen before!
The portal stretched across many kilometers, providing more than enough space for a battleship to fly through!
Yet before the portal had just finished stabilizing, the sandman monoliths instantly reacted. A considerable amount of gravitic energy emanated from their giant forms, forming a cage of gravitic waves that enveloped the entire star system!
The portal formed by the destroyer suddenly shook and started to destabilize! Many Brighters stifled their hopes when the portal quickly warped beyond recognition before exploding in a shower of light!
Without the ability to generate a portal, the most convenient means the MTA possessed to rapidly reinforce Bentheim had become invalid!
The sandmen succeeded in forming a blockade around the star system!