The entire battlefield rippled when the Valkyrie Prime reprised its earlier role.
Even though the entire support cast had been swapped by first-timers who were still new to this greater stage, the Glory Seeker mech pilots stepped up when it counted.
The Hexer mech pilots forcefully brushed aside all of their anxiety and insecurity. They tried their best to enter into the best possible state of mind to channel the Superior Mother's might.
As proper Hexers, they were extremely jealous of the Penitent Sisters for being able to serve as the vessel of the Superior Mother's judgement.
"We can't let those criminal exiles upstage us all." Captain Valeis told her fellow earlier. "Forget about all of your contempt and ill feelings towards Venerable Joshua. Even if he's a boy and not a Hexer, he is still blessed by the Superior Mother, just like her son. So forget about everything your mothers and your teachers have taught you about boys and treat him as if he is the Superior Mother's personal envoy."
The Glory Seekers may be Hexers, but they were also accustomed to following orders. Even if their instincts and their minds warred with their instructions, whenever they recounted how the exiled cultists of their state managed to strike a blow to the very souls of the Fridaymen, they no longer let their inner turmoil get in the way of this moment of supreme glory.
The Superior Mother already appeared to be prepared. As soon as the earnest Glory Seeker mech pilots had engaged their connections in the battle network, the ancestral spirit actively extended her influence and smoothed out the fluctuating emotions of the Hexer mech pilots.
For a moment, most of the Glory Seeker mech pilots as well as Venerable Joshua had become one in mind and with the battle network!
With the strengthening of the connections, the Superior Mother was able to exert greater control over the mechs and mech pilots than before.
Her power channeled into them, causing them to move in a mysterious fashion before they successfully formed into a V formation.
The Valkyrie mechs advanced slowly. Due to the slightly weaker spiritual foundations of the Valkyrie interceptors and the Valkyrie Hurricanes, the momentum of the overall battle formation was a little weaker. There were also slightly less mechs than before, and Ghanso's active attacks weren't helping.
Even though the attacking expert pilots put up a brave front, they were still vigilant towards this extraordinary manifestation.
Yet despite what their instincts told them, there was no way that Venerable Ghanso and Venerable Foster were willing to turn back at this point!
"Push through, Foster!" Ghanso called out.
"Hah, I was just about to say the same." She savagely grinned inside the cockpit of her regenerating expert mech. "In fact, let's split up. If this attack is the same as the one before, then it shouldn't be able to go after two separate targets that are located too far away from each."
There was a good reason why they stuck together up to this moment.
The Charlemagne was a powerful ranged mech but it was not designed to fight at point blank range. While it wasn't strictly helpless against melee mechs, it performed at its best when it attacked its targets with its rifle.
The Jeanne D'Arc was the opposite. It was very deadly up close and could endure a lot of punishment to boot. It served as an excellent complement to Venerable Ghanso's expert mech.
Yet as they were making their final end run, sticking together would only do more harm than good, especially against a powerful new attack method that had already slaughtered tens of thousands of Fridaymen!
"I'll go up, you go down!"
The Charlemagne and its zombie Bloody Heron mechs distinctly changed their course to an upward trajectory.
Meanwhile, the Jeanne D'Arc left the protective formation and angled downwards as if to approach the Spirit of Bentheim from below.
The two expert pilots separated from each other very fast! Long before the Glory Seeker battle formation was ready to unleash its attack, the two primary targets had already split several kilometers apart from each other, which was too far away for the Superior Mother's death attack to reach them both.
With each second that passed, the two Fridayman expert mechs flew even further apart!
Venerable Joshua, who was still able to exert a huge amount of influence on the battle formation due to the entrustment he received from the Glory Seeker mech pilots, briefly fell into a dilemma.
However, he instantly regained his focus. He and the other Hexer mech pilots knew they needed to achieve the greatest possible result.
If their efforts weren't able to touch both targets at once, then they would settle for the second-best option!
The battle formation oriented upwards in order to prepare an attack against Venerable Ghanso and his new slave mechs!
When Ghanso saw this happening, he briefly cursed but soon controlled his expression. He knew he was the more attractive target because there were around 60 Bloody Heron mechs that were flying alongside his Charlemagne.
He had already begun his preparations to meet the incoming attack. He spread the slave mechs out to the edge of his control range, which was actually just a couple of hundred meters.
"Come and hit me, Hexers!" Ghanso taunted as his mech fired straight at the Valkyrie Prime that had exposed itself by holding the center position of the V formation. "I am not afraid of a fabricated deity!"
The Superior Mother didn't exist. The huge robed woman that appeared above the formation of Valkyrie mechs was clearly a projected illusion according to the sensors of the Charlemagne.
It was all smoke and mirrors aside from the actual attack!
Even though the Charlemagne's attacks were having some effect against the Valkyrie Prime, the Superior Mother merely pointed her finger at it. Seconds later, the mech seemed to have been recharged to full strength!
The two opposing formations were moving forward. Venerable Joshua did not want to unleash the attack until he was close enough to prevent any chance of missing.
As the critical moment neared, Venerable Joshua briefly mustered up enough focus to transmit a message to Venerable Ghanso.
"I pity you, Ghanso."
"Don't bother to break my attention, you false Larkinson."
"You may want to pay attention to this. Do you know that the Superior Mother is Ves' mother?"
"What nonsense are you talking about?"
"I'm just telling you a fact." Joshua said. "Let me tell you another fact. Not a single Larkinson supports you. Nobody in the Larkinson Clan or the Larkinson Family wants to follow your vision. Do you know what that means?"
"I will correct every mistake that Ves has made as soon as I slaughter him myself!"
Venerable Joshua ignored Ghanso's outburst.
"You don't get it, Ghanso. What I am trying to say is that the Superior Mother is much more of a Larkinson than you! She is our true family, while you are a traitor who has stooped to killing your relatives!"
Venerable Ghanso's rhythm froze a bit as he made the mistake of falling into his opponent's narrative.
Joshua grinned. "Your aunt says goodbye!"
The Valkyrie mechs finally unleashed the extraordinary attack that had shocked the battlefield!
This time, the giant projection of the Superior Mother seemed to glare at the Charlemagne. She swept her sleeves at the offending mech, causing the Valkyrie mechs to unleash a more radial-shaped energy attack that happened to sweep over Ghanso's expert mech as well as every single Bloody Heron mech.
Though the death energy contained within the attack looked intimidating, Venerable Ghanso knew enough about physics that an attack that was dispersed over such a wide area was not actually that concentrated.
With his exceptional will, he feared no assault against his mind! His instincts also hinted to him that while the strange attack was very deadly against mortals, an expert pilot like him would only experience a bit of discomfort at most.
As the wave hit the Charlemagne, his suspicions turned out to be true. Ghanso remained as confident as ever as he withstood the foreign energy battering against his mind and will.
What Superior Mother?
This was nothing but a wide area mental attack activated through unknown means! His opponents should have concentrated the energy to a single point if they wanted to kill him with this method.
As for the Bloody Heron mechs, the attack shouldn't be able to do anything to them either. The minds of their mech pilots were already wiped out once. There shouldn't have been anything left for the second wave to affect.
Unfortunately, Ghanso and his sharp intuition overlooked one crucial detail. Aisling and the Fridaymen who supported him from behind also missed something important.
The Charlemagne was still supporting the asymmetrical neural network!
At the time the huge wave of death energy washed over the roughly 60 surviving Bloody Heron mechs, the minds of the mech pilots all received it at full blast.
With the help of the active man-machine connections, that energy entered the asymmetrical neural network through obscure means.
The dutiful slaves were unwittingly passing on their suffering to their master. The results came instantly.
Venerable Ghanso was in more pain than ever before! His mind almost split apart immediately as the amount of pressure he had to endure suddenly amplified by 60 times!
Expert pilot or not, the concentration of energy that was battering at him was corroding his own will!
Fortunately, before a second had even passed, the emergency safety systems of his Charlemagne instantly shut down the asymmetrical neural network regardless of what was happening. The anomalous and incredibly concerning brain activity of his mind had instantly subsided a bit as Venerable Ghanso quickly gained a reprieve.
His will was crumbling and burning!
His mind felt as if it was about to shatter in pieces!
His body was shaking from the agony he just endured!
He never thought that the asymmetrical neural network could channel something as strange as the death energy to him. Even Aisling back onboard the Eager Condemnation was stunned.
According to the telemetry of the Charlemagne, the neural network did not transmit anything anomalous. How come they were able to channel something that bypassed every safeguard and limiter and directly impacted Venerable Ghanso's mind?
While Ghanso was trying to recover from getting mentally slammed, the Valkyrie Prime had suddenly flown up to the Charlemagne and slammed its spear straight through the exposed abdomen of the rifleman mech!
If the stricken expert pilot had managed to shake off his pain, he would have been able to avoid the charge.
Yet his slow recovery at this point proved fatal!
"H-How?" Ghanso felt confused as he felt his mech lose a lot of functionality from the damage. "A cheap trash mech like yours shouldn't have been able to penetrate through the frontal armor of my Charlemagne in one charge."
He was piloting a genuine expert mech! Even if it was mostly geared towards ranged combat, the mech's armor was still strong enough to bounce away attacks from regular mechs!
Unfortunately, Ghanso wasn't facing any normal mech.
Venerable Joshua's lips curled into a cruel grin. "Your biggest mistake is that you have always looked down on Patriarch's Ves work. If you just accepted Ves' greatness, all of this could have been prevented."
The Charlemagne's lifted a shaking arm. It was attempting to bring its rifle to bear against the Valkyrie Prime that was still holding onto the unmoving spear.
The prime mech easily battered its shield against the rifle, physically wrenching it away from the grip of the damaged expert mech.
"So this is.. Ves' greatest work?"
Joshua shook his head. "So far, at least. He has many other wonders in store for us. Only true Larkinsons get to enjoy his best creations."
Obviously, Ghanso wasn't among them. Even if Ves offered his cousin a mech, Ghanso would never accept!
Seeing that a melee mech had managed to defy his expectations and critically damaged one of Master Huron's unique works, Venerable Ghanso lowered his head and slumped into his piloting seat.
"You're right." He sighed as his aching pain and the sudden turn of events seemed to have sapped all of his anger out of him. His mind was still pounding like a drum and his will seemed to fray more and more as time went by. "I underestimated Ves. He's a good mech designer. I'll give him that. I should have respected his abilities more. What a Larkinson…"
"It's over, Ghanso. Shut down your mech."
"Heh. And give up the Charlemagne so my cousin can get his grubby hands over it? DREAM ON! A TRUE LARKINSON SHALL NEVER LET ANYONE GET AWAY WITH DISGRACING OUR NAME! COUSIN! I KNOW YOU ARE LISTENING TO ME! A RECKONING WILL COME! IF NOT FROM ME, THAN FROM SOMEONE ELSE! YOU WILL GET WHAT YOU DESERVE AND I WILL HAVE MY JUSTICE!"
One of the Charlemagne's wrists extended a long blade. Yet before it could be thrust into its target, the Valkyrie Prime easily blocked the feeble attack.
The prime mech simply pulled out its spear and stabbed it into the expert mech again!
There was no contest!
However, as Venerable Joshua finished the job that he had set out to do, the Jeanne D'Arc was still intact!
Even though the Transcendent Punishers bombarded it with all of their remaining strength, the expert mech remained undaunted as it approached the expeditionary fleet!
"It's useless, Larkinsons!" Venerable Foster confidently taunted. "There's hardly any mechs left in my way! Your precious factory ship will soon taste my blade!"
It seemed that some clansmen took issue with her statement. Seeing that the Transcendent Punishers weren't strong enough to stop the Jeanne D'Arc in its tracks, the Larkinson Clan finally called upon one of its final reserves.
The Bright Sword Prime and a mech company of swordsman mechs emerged from behind the Spirit of Bentheim.
The Swordmaidens knew exactly who was piloting the Jeanne D'Arc. They had been looking forward to this confrontation for a very long time.
Venerable Dise took a deep breath as she focused all of her sights on the Fridayman expert mech that was getting closer and closer.
"Commander Lydia… you can rest easy now. I will take revenge for your death and the death of our sisters today!"
The Bright Sword Prime brandished its sharp sword at the Jeanne D'Arc in a challenging fashion!
"SWORDMAIDENS! LET US DO COMMANDER LYDIA PROUD!"