Chapter 37- The difficulty of piloting a mecha
Kristen had always thought that the arduous training Big Beard had arranged for her was the only way one could get a taste of hell on earth.
When she joined the Third Legion, General Doyle completely redefined what hell on earth actually meant.
Fortunately, her friends from the Scarlet Thorns could not escape this disaster and was forced to endure this torture with her. Kristen had watched as Daniel was worked to death by the various technical soldiers in the Third Legion. And her combatant mercenaries ended up looking like dead dogs at the end of each training. Knowing that someone was also suffering from her did give her some comfort.
Although her physical condition had already met the requirement to ride the Strider, she only met the barest of requirements. She needed to be in the best condition to fully master the mecha. And so, since the first day she arrived in the Third Legion, almost every waking moment was spent in the gravity chamber.
When not in combat, all sergeants of the Third Legion must stay in the military port belonging to the Third Legion except for the occasional vacation every now and then. That also meant all training and exercises were completed at this military port.
So, in addition to facilities such as starship docking and maintenance, this huge circular military port has also set up countless large and small gravity rooms and training fields.
When Kristen dragged her sweaty body out of the gravity chamber, her eyes landed on General Doyle who had been waiting outside the door.
Although General Doyle had assigned her a bunch of unbelievable training tasks, the man was forced to leave due to the various affairs of the Third Legion and so Kristen had to finish all the training on her own.
Kristen raised a hang and wiped the sweat dripping down her chin and asked, “General. What’s the matter?”
“The Strider has finished its basic maintenance. Return to your room and clean up.” General looked at the clock hanging high on the wall at the end of the hallway, “After half an hour, wait for me outside the maintenance bay.”
“Yes, sir.” Kristen answered, “So we can start the beta testing now?”
General Doyle snorted, “Probably not.”
He noticed Kristen’s confused expression but didn’t say anything as he turned to leave, “The Strider is not a mecha that is kind to its pilot. Make sure to pray.”
When Kristen arrived at the maintenance bay, General Doyle was not there yet. She walked through the milky white door that had automatically opened when sensing her presence and looked around.
She felt that it was a little strange.
It should stand to reason that the maintenance bay should have tighter security when handling such important weapons like the Strider. Yet she was able to waltz in freely.
She failed to restrain her curiosity and peeked inward.
Her eyes were instantly drawn to the tall mecha standing in the center of the maintenance bay.
The mecha was more than 20 meters tall, almost like a small mountain. It’s silver and the black frame was smooth and dark, reflecting a cold going of light from the illumination of the maintenance bay. Even in its dormant state, the mecha looked like a murderous god of death, one able to harvest countless lives on the battlefield at any time.
This was the first time Kristen had seen the Strider in its full form.
Last time, during the turmoil and chaos, she had only seen the big mecha hunched over in Big Beard’s secret room and barely got a glimpse of the cobweb covered mecha before being whisked away back to Pandora. Seeing it now, she could tell that this mecha really is like an oversize war machine.
Kristen is someone who has seen mechas that are said to be extremely expensive and once marveled at their performance and appearance, but now when comparing them to the Strider the other mechas pale in comparison. They seemed mediocre at best compared to this terrifying machine.
Strider is truly beautiful.
Kirsten finally understood the saying of ‘the cruel beauty of war and weaponry.’
She was so focused on the mecha that she didn’t even notice the footsteps coming from behind her.
She blankly raised her head to look at this impressive mecha, the legendary machine that the Empire obsessed over. Even when General Doyle pushed her slightly, she didn’t turn around. Instead, she stumbled forward a few steps.
She stood there, not moving an inch when the door closed behind her.
Only then did she turn her head like she was waking up from a dream and met General Doyle’s amused look.
“What are you gaping at?” General Doyle let out a rare chuckle, a flash of nostalgia in his eyes.
Kristen blushed but nodded anyway.
“The alluring charm of the Strider is indeed great,” General Doyle raised his head and looked at the huge mecha that stood on the ground, “Back then….when I had first entered the Third Legion, I had also reacted similarly when I saw the Strider for the first time.”
Even the General became silly in front of this mecha?
Kristen could hardly believe it.
General Doyle comes from a very good background and can be regarded as a nobleman from Planet Ta. Otherwise, he would’ve been eliminated like the rest of the leadership in the Third Legion during those dark times.
“No matter what my family background is, even I can’t afford a mecha.” “General Doyle seemed to know what she was thinking and smiled helplessly.
“YOu must activate the Strider yourself,” General Doyle turned around, his eyes resolute and firm, “Kristen, think carefully now. Once you successfully activate the Strider, you will become the new master of the Strider. That also means you will become the ace of the Third Legion as well.”
“The moment you activate the Strider, you will no longer be a mercenary leader of the Scarlet Thorns but a soldier like me who will have to fight for the preservation of the Empire.”
General Doyle studied her carefully as if trying to find hesitation in her gray-blue eyes: “Kristen, are you willing to accept this responsibility?”
The corners of Kristen’s mouth curved upwards, revealing a bright smile.
She replied without a second thought, “I am willing!”
General Doyle answered back with a smile and stepped aside, motioning for Kristen to climb the platform and enter the mecha.
Kristen nodded and walked towards the platform.
As she climbed up, the metal clinked firmly and clearly beneath her feet.
She stopped, just one step away from one of the Strider’s giant arms.
She felt her heart beat faster and she took a deep breath before she jumped into the mecha.
The cockpit, at the chest of the mecha, and opened when she neared and Kristen sat in the pilot’s seat. The moment she sat down, she heard a soft beep.
The cockpit’s door closed with a click.
Kristen watched as the lights on the console in front of her lit up one by one, the screen indicating that the mecha was restarting its systems. The mecha began to vibrate.
Kristen waited quietly when a cold and haughty voice rang out.
“The reboot has been completed.”
Kristen was slightly taken aback.
Most artificial intelligence she had encountered spoke in mostly flat and mechanically synthesized voices. The voice of this A.I. was completely different as she could hear even a hint of impatience in its voice.
“Who are you?”
Kristen was stunned and replied blankly: “Do mecha sleep too?”
Otherwise, how else do you explain the ‘morning grumpiness’ in its tone?
The Strider seemed taken aback by her question and was silent for several seconds before speaking again:
“When the former master of the Strider loses all signs of life, the mecha falls into a state of dormancy. It seems my former master has perished.”
The voice sounded sad for a second before it became smug again, “Youngster, even if your physique has met the requirements, if you cannot pass my test….I will never accept an incompetent person as my master.”
Kristen’s face showed no fear and her gray-blue eyes sparkled with confidence: “Let’s do this!”
Let’s see just how capable the so-called No.1 Mecha in the Empire really is!
“The mental transmission system has been connected.”
“Operating system access is successful.”
“Self-inspection has been completed.”
“Importing battle data.”
“Data imported successfully. Opening up battlefield RS1228-946.”
“Combat Mission: Survive on the battlefield for 1 hour.”
“Battle simulation is about to start, the countdown begins now-”
Kristen’s eyes widened, “Strider, wait, I haven’t even learned how to pilot a mecha yet!!!”
How was she going to pass a test if she didn’t even know how to pilot the darn mecha? And a test on a virtual battlefield too!
The countdown began and the Strider sneered “Why does it matter to me if you can pilot a mecha or not? If you’re afraid, just admit defeat now. I don’t want a coward as my master.”
The Strider really caught her off guard with this move.
It’s like playing a game without a tutorial, you had to learn it all on your own! And that game had just abruptly raised its difficulty by several levels!
The countdown reached zero.
The scene in front of Kristen flashed, and as the mecha was not connected to her brain, a vast battlefield appeared in front of her eyes.
A scene of destroyed battleships, missiles, and laser cannons flying above her, and chaotic magnetic fields appeared in front of her.
The Strider clearly did not intend to give her an easy time.
One of her hands covered the joystick while the other tried to figure out the other buttons.
While she was still trying to figure everything out, the Strider deliberately provoked her, “This battlefield is a record of the coordinates where the Third Legion was almost wiped out. The only difference is that… you have no allies to help you.”
Kristen rushed to dodge a high energy laser beam directed at her when another three missiles came flying at her before she could catch her breath.
She evaded them hurriedly and clumsily as she had just figured out the basic controls. She raised the muzzle of the mecha’s right arm, firing a couple of laser beams of her own to finally destroy the missiles raining down on her.
Meanwhile, the Strider was still complaining loudly: “I’ve never seen someone pilot a mecha in such an ugly manner. Your flight maneuver is ugly too.”
Kristen felt sweat drip down her face, “If it’s ugly then don’t watch me!”
The situation became even more chaotic.
Without allies acting as her cover, the Strider was the biggest target for the opponent on this battlefield.
Even if Kristen’s reaction speed is fast, to defend without attacking would only lead to defeat.
Only when she had finally flown smoothly out of her opponent’s range did she try to fight back.
She had only learned how to pilot starships before and although she was well experienced in commanding large starships, she was currently piloting a mecha. And a legendary mecha that is famous throughout the universe. Even if Kristen has strong learning and adaptability capabilities, even she would feel a little overwhelmed.
The Strider curved and weaved through the ruins of war and dodged the artillery fire. Occasionally it fired a few crooked missiles that flew into the deep space and disappeared.
Kristen’s eyes were alert as she surveyed her surroundings. Her fingers hovered over the launch button for the missiles but she couldn’t’ waste any more of her ammo, “Can’t you at least tell me how to attack correctly with these missiles?”
The Strider is ruthless: “No. Please do not try to cheat. This kind of behavior will only lower my impression of you.”
Kristen said in an annoyed tone, “Who cares about that? This is not the time to worry about your impression of me!”
The Strider chuckled dangerously, “Instead of chatting with me, it’s better if you focus on the test. You are already on the verge of failing.”
As soon as it finished, Kristen felt something hit the side of the mecha, the mecha trembled violently as it swerved through the air. They had been hit.
“The flanks have been damaged along with the air pumps. The recommended solution is to reduce the damage taken by the mecha and avoid further accidents….”
Before Strider could finish, the mecha trembled violently again.
It was hit for a second time.
Kristen bit her lower lip hard, faint teeth mark left on her red lips when she released her teeth.
“The temperature balancer has been taken out. The 03 thrusters on the lower left have been damaged and are no longer operational.”
….There is only one choice left.
Kristen knew clearly that she was in trouble.
This was the most dangerous situation she had ever been in. If she can’t break through this predicament, then the encircling opponents would just trap her in further.
Her fingers hovered over the missile button again.
The Strider bumbled around in the air until finally, it began to move more smoothly. Although one could tell that the pilot was treating the mecha like a spacecraft, the high speed and flexibility was something a spacecraft could not accomplish.
The Strider passed by the wreckage of a broken ship when a missile immediately hit that wreckage and it exploded-
Then another missile was launched but this missile headed for her opponents.
Kristen breathed a sigh of relief and shook the sweat off her palms.
The counterattack begins now!
Kristen’s instincts were terrifyingly accurate. Even if she didn’t know the proper fighting and the shooting principle of the mecha, she had long adapted to the uncertainty of war.
From who knows when the Strider finally closed its mouth and only focused on analyzing the battle data that was instantly transmitted to the mecha.
However, in her intense concentration, Kristen didn’t realize the Strider had stopped talking. Instead, she felt the adrenaline pump through her veins as she continued forward. She didn’t even realize that the temperature inside the mecha had dropped.
Fog formed whenever she exhaled and white ice crystals condensed on her lashes and brows. She didn’t realize that the joystick in her hands was practically frozen to her palms as she pressed the launch button again.
12 minutes left.
She just needed to hold on for another 12 minutes!
The Strider did a barrel roll as it escaped the curtain of missiles flying towards it.
The mecha kept moving at a high speed through this battlefield full of starship debris and forced her opponents to double their efforts.
“Strider, report to me the remaining amount we have left.”
For the first time, Kristen was the one barking instructions to the mecha.
The Strider’s poisonous tongue was nowhere to be found as it politely said, “3 missiles left.”
This was not an optimistic number.
Although she had barely escaped death, if Kristen could not escape the encircling entrapment, she would once again fall into the same dilemma.
She dodged and weaved before she finally found the opportunity she had been waiting for.
Even if her opponent tried to avoid it from this distance, they would not be able to avoid it completely.
“The missile has hit, the enemy ship is going down.”
The encirclement was slowly shrinking.
The second missile stuck into a piece of debris and failed to land a fatal attack.
Kristen was still waiting for that opportunity.
However, the other party didn’t want to give her that time to wait.
The sharp drop in temperature finally began to affect Kristen.
She moved slowly. Too slowly.
The Strider was driven to an inevitable situation.
Kristen raised his head and glanced at the time, biting her lower lip. She pushed the button one last time. Both sides launched missiles simultaneously.
The Strider sought cover behind a cluster of debris and the missile the mecha had laughed slammed into the opponent’s flagship.
The explosion of the missile almost broke the flagship’s energy shield. However, this was what she was waiting for. The mechanical arm of the mecha grasped the sword hilt attached to its side. A laser beam stretched out from the hilt. The mecha raised the sword, flying straight for the enemy’s weak point.
The sword struck home, successfully destroying the opponent’s missile launchers.
Kristen looked up to see the timer had reached zero. The Strider moved quickly as many missiles flew towards it.
The mecha flew resolutely towards the main flagship and crashed into the side. The missiles followed after and bombarded the flagship!
“The Strider has crashed.”
Kristen let out a sigh but then heard Strider hesitate before it added another sentence: “….the enemy flagship…has been sunk.”
A smile flashed across Kristen’s pale face.
She patted her seat, “I’ve won.”
The Strider did not speak as it silently restored the temperature that had dropped in the simulation earlier.
When Kristen finally recovered did the Strider state coldly, “Kristen….you have barely received my approval.”
Kristen laughed openly.
“So, are you willing to admit that I am qualified to be your master now?”
Strider snorted coldly: “.…So what? With your current abilities, you won’t be able to do much anyway. An empty title.”
Kristen didn’t care. She hadn’t properly learned how to pilot a mecha yet so of course, her current level was worse than the average mecha pilot.
She leaned back, grinning with one hand dangling in the air as she put both her feet up on the console.
“It doesn’t matter,” She smiled, “Now that I am your master, no matter how I pilot, you will have to bear with it all!”
The Strider seemed angry: “You-! You–sit up straight!”
Kristen sat upright and asked with a smile, “Alright, I’ve sat up. When are you going to import my data into the mecha?”
The Strider didn’t speak but a holographic screen popped up in front of her:
【Do you wish to become the third owner of the Strider? 】
Without any hesitation, Kristen clicked ‘yes’.
After completing the activation, even Kristen with an S-level physique couldn’t help but feel a little tired.
As soon as she climbed down from the mecha, General Doyle was able to tell what had happened.
“Seems you were successful. Then go back and rest early. Starting tomorrow, you will be properly trained as a mecha pilot.”
Kristen nodded and made her way to the door.
General Doyle waited until the door was closed before he looked at the mecha.
“What do you think of her?”
This reply surprised Doyle: “You actually said something nice about someone?”
This A.I.’s poisonous tongue has been a thing of legends since back in the day. Even in General Angus’ hands, the Strider was ruthless as it taunted every single one of Angus’s lieutenants and buried them in a pile of insults ten times over. Even Doyle, now the leader of the Third Legion, still held psychological scars of trauma from those days.
“….” The Strider was silent for a moment, “…..She learns quickly.”
General Doyle agreed with this point.
From that time on Pulangke, Kristen’s huge improvement was enough to surprise anyone.
“Did you use the battlefield simulation from before?” General Doyle asked, “Although the action is slow, it’s not a bad testing ground.”
The answer the mecha gave him startled him, “No. I used the ninth simulation on her.”
General Doyle almost thought he had heard it wrong: “…Are you quite sure? Ninth?!!”
The mecha sounded rather impatient: “I am quite sure! Doyle, you’re like a rookie compared to her. You should reflect on yourself later.”
“Rookie?” General Doyle pointed to himself, “You mean me?”
He laughed almost angrily: “I, Doyle Walter, the highest record holder in the ninth simulation is a noob?”
The Strider replied indifferently: “Oh, I’m sorry, your record was just accidentally broken.”
“What?!” General Doyle couldn’t believe it. “Just now? Kristen?”
The Strider stated the facts without emotion: “I told her to last one hour.”
“If I remember correctly, my record should be one hour and seventeen minutes.”
“You remember correctly,” The Strider replied, “but humans tend to lose the motivation to persist when the goal is in sight, so I slowed down the timer in the second half. I wanted to see how much will she truly had. And her final result should be…”
“One hour and thirty-two minutes.”
General Doyle: “…..”
General Doyle: “…..What kind of anomaly is she.”
“The same kind of anomaly as Angus.” The Strider said, “You should go back and prepare. Push Kristen hard enough and she will surprise you.”
The Strider: I have a poisonous tongue, so what? I will attack anyone I see!
A big fat chapter that could not be broken into separate chapters =w=
I felt proud for about a second.
Happy New Year!