[Compatibility Determined] Rank A
[Primary Attribute] STR 2.5x modifier
[Secondary Bonuses] DEX 2x, SPD 2x
[Innate Talent] Mind Reading
[Additional Function Unit Optimization]
[Additional Function Multi Point Targeting]
[Additional Function Split Fire]
[Additional Function Perception 2]
Max stared at his system bonuses in shock. Very few Pilots ever made it to three hundred points of bonus, much less with a third base point in every stat. Just seeing the numbers in front of him made Max realize that he was likely one of the most physically powerful humans alive.
Not only that but inside the Mecha very few would be able to match him now. The increase in the [Perception] skill was more like a form of battle focus, allowing him to slow apparent time to a crawl when he needed.
“Catch a couple of hours of sleep. The technicians can take over for a bit while everyone gets ready to go again.” Nico told him, and Max could sense that she sent the same message to the other Commanders.
The technicians were all Crusader Class Qualified but had skills better suited to repair than the multiple weapon systems that the X137 fielded. If the worst came to pass and an attack started while the primary pilots were asleep, they could all at least manage an artillery bombardment and pick off high-threat targets, even if it wouldn’t be quite as smooth or precise as usual.
Max was asleep only seconds after his head hit the pillow, and didn’t wake up until Nico shook him four hours later.
“There’s oatmeal. The Klem force is building up again, but not as heavily, so the consensus among the technicians is they’re waiting for something. The perimeter forces have begun making progress, despite meeting a large number of Shredders.” Nico quickly caught him up in the situation, but it only made Max more curious about what they were waiting for.
Klem weren’t known to be patient hunters, they were usually ravenous and went straight for the kill.
Max could see that both his Battalion and the Klem were on edge, but he just couldn’t understand what they were waiting for. At least not until the corpses began to shudder and move, being pushed up into windrows to cover the Klem advance.
[They had the swarm lay eggs in the bodies and they’re creating defensive walls to cover their approach. As soon as those walls are ready, they will charge.] Max called over the radio, unsure who was awake among the Command team.
[Closest row is two hundred meters, should we send the Flamers out to light it up?] Major Pippin asked.
[Do it. I will have Nico send up the drones so we can properly target through the smoke. Everyone Crusader Class and up should be able to link the data feeds to their heads-up display. The Corvettes can wait until the Klem are in closer, just don’t burn the portion that is upwind of the base.]
As soon as permission was given, nine of the X109 Fast Attack Crusaders leaped out and turned their Flamers on the corpses, creating a wall of flames that engulfed three-quarters of the closest circle of bodies before the Fast Attack Mecha jumped back to avoid being overrun by the nimble cockroaches that were the Klem Swarm.
Major Pippin and Baker Company were upwind today, so they got a clear view, but they also got an influx of Klem, who had moved around the base to avoid the fires. Klem corpses were rather flammable but had a very high ignition point. Under normal circumstances, they wouldn’t burn, but once they were lit with the Fusion Flamers the piles became a daunting inferno that even the bravest of the insects didn’t dare approach too closely.
What they did do was rush toward the last row before the flames and get ready to attack the moment the flames died down.
[We have motion in the clearing, but the flames are spreading around to the upwind side.] Baker Company reported as the Drone feeds showed the Klem beginning to charge.
[Artillery, full barrage, I will assist Baker Company At the clearing.] Max ordered, and once again the Thunder Guns made the very air around them shake.
By the time the Klem realized their mistake it was already too late. The artillery shells were raining down among them, and the fires were still burning too hot for them to charge.
Pure chaos ensued among the insectoid aliens, and Baker Company’s combined firepower began putting in work to prevent the Klem who had circled the base from entering the gap in the flames. It was creating a large pile of corpses, and the flames were inching closer as they consumed the initial pile that the swarm had created.
“The fires are spreading. The artillery spread some of the burning bodies into the second pile, and it is spreading through the whole battlefield.” Nico informed Max as she watched the Drones’ thermal sensor feed light up with more and more fire.
“That’s fine. We needed to do something about them before they rotted anyhow. The Klem will create a new batch for us soon enough.” Max shrugged, keeping up his rate of fire with the Mass Drivers while sniping the Shredders with the Ion Bombard Arrays.
Soon, the problem wasn’t the fire itself, but the smoke. It wasn’t long before thick black smoke covered everything, forcing the entire unit into their Mecha or inside Landers with the doors sealed.
That also killed their visibility, and the fire itself made thermal targeting nearly impossible. The Klem seemed to have fled, but if they came back now, they would be nearly on top of the unit before they could do anything about it.
Nico had two drones outside the fire area, showing no movement, but that black plume could be seen, and smelled, for hundreds of kilometers.
To the Mecha on the perimeter, the fire was clearly visible, rising high into the afternoon sky, a beacon to mark their destination.
Most units had already learned the drawback to the immensely powerful Flamers on the X109, that being their propensity to start forest fires and light Klem bodies if they were used for more than a short burst at a time. They were possibly too effective, but the nature of their ignition didn’t allow for them to be turned down in intensity by very much.
The other Battalions were certain that the First Battalion, who dropped right into the thick of the infestation and therefore had seen the heaviest attacks, must have known as well, so the other Battalions’ Commanders took the smoke as a diversion tactic, confusing the Klem and keeping them from focusing on the Mecha Army that had surrounded them.
“It takes some big brass ones to risk drawing an entire Klem infestation down on your own head to make it easier for your reinforcements. Let’s get a move on and wipe them out before the bugs can get organized.” Colonel Sanchez of the Second Battalion laughed, before ordering his entire force to advance.
They had hundreds of kilometers to cover before they would reach that smoke, and even in with light resistance, it would take them days to get there. But they were no longer being held at bay, as the Klem forces were in disarray thanks to the conflicting reports of Kepler Mecha threats, so this was the perfect moment to advance.