Chapter 5420 Multi-modal
"This lightning isn't behaving like lightning." Ves cursed as he shook off the effects of his latest shock massage. "It is messing up my calculations!"
He had been trying to come up with suggestions on how to resist the lightning bolts that were growing ever stronger.
Major Jankowski and the Fey Project had managed to figure out numerous tricks that helped with preserving the integrity of the main body.
However, neither of them possessed the expertise or imagination to formulate more advanced combinations.
Ves originally devised this remarkable variation of his Fey Project as a living machine that could naturally harness the power of all five elements at once.
Yet just because it was born with the potential to do so did not necessarily mean it was ready to manipulate all of those elemental E energies like an ancient spiritual sorcerer.
A part of Ves felt disappointed at himself for bringing such a flawed product to life.
The deviant Fey Project possessed the greatest potential on completion out of every other mech that he had developed, yet its shortcomings in other areas dragged it down.
The clear spiritual immaturity and lack of spiritual strength meant that his latest work was like a third-class mech pilot who had entered the cockpit of a first-class multipurpose mech!
Even though the latter was powerful enough to destroy a small and relatively weak alien warship by itself, the handicap imposed by a weak and unqualified mech pilot meant that its effective strength was only a miniscule fraction of its theoretical maximum!
Right now, Ves loosely estimated that the five elements mech was only operating at way less than 1 percent of its attainable maximum potential.
This was an extremely bad utilization rate, because he guessed that in order to survive all 81 lightning strikes, his Fey Project had to activate at least 30 percent of its potential to withstand the onslaught from above.
If the lightning tribulation progressed at a rate that was way beyond his expectations, then perhaps the Fey Project would not be able to make it out alive unless it activated 80 percent of its potential!
This was a ludicrously high rate and could only be attained through decades of constant practice.
Ves did not dare to think too much in this direction. He could only think about what was in front of him. So long as he kept coming up with effective solutions that enabled his new creation to merge the power of the five elements in more effective ways, his mech should be able to get ahead of the curve!
"Sir, your demands are becoming more difficult to fulfill." Major Jankowski spoke as he endured greater and greater strain. "The mech is doing its best to increase its reach and strength over the E energies under its control, but it is too hard to do both at the same time. It is easier to focus on accomplishing one or the other."
"No! That is not good enough." Ves vigorously shook his head. "This lightning tribulation won't let the Fey Project survive if it does that. The only way for it to survive long enough to resist all 81 lightning strikes is to quickly boost the quantity and quality of its energy control abilities. The living mech and its fey can do it. I know what they are capable of, and together they can produce amazing synergies so long as they work hard enough."
"What do they need to do then to make that happen?" The mech officer asked.
Ves thought quickly. The operation of the Fey Project was similar to a qi cultivator, so it may be best to employ the same methods.
"The best way for them to increase their control is if they fixate on a strong image of what they want to accomplish. The power of imagination is their best hope. It is not enough to move the elemental E energies around. They must convince themselves that they can form more advanced energy constructs! It is best if they imagine themselves as strong entities that are capable of wielding these energies with the ease of a god."
"This mech is too new to possess a strong identity." Jankowski retorted. "It doesn't even have a name for itself."
"Then we should correct-" CRACK! "-OUCH! I mean, we should fix that immediately!"
They both tried to come up with a few names. Time was of the essence so neither of them could come up with anything too imaginative.
"What about the Elemental Lord?" The RA mech officer proposed. "The living mech likes the image that the phrase evokes in my mind. It wants to attain complete dominance over the five elements."
Ves did not look surprised when he heard that. He pretty much conveyed the same goal into his work when he developed it during his inspired state.
"Elemental Lord is as good as any. Try and encourage the Fey Project to believe in the fantasy that this name evokes."
Just as he wanted to say more, the nature of the storm changed drastically.
Ves had already expected that the next lightning bolt would be different. He had already adjusted the settings in order to substantially decrease the amount of current that would be running through his improvised arrangement.
This was because the newly christened Elemental Lord had already been struck 18 times!
The exterior of the machine looked a lot more scorched and battleworn than before. The strong armor affixed to its humanoid head and upper shoulders had clearly seen better days as the excessive heat and energy from the tribulation all caused them to melt and deform.
Ves initially expected that the storm clouds would spit out a lightning bolt that was up to 50 percent stronger than before, but it actually started to accumulate more charge into its clouds, causing it to get riddled by golden flashes!
What was happening?
It was Jovy who cleared up his confusion.
"This is bad, Ves! All signs indicate that this is a multi-modal lightning tribulation. That means that after every round of 9 strikes, there is a chance that the next round will test the target in a radically different way."
"What?! Why would it do that?!"
"There are a lot of possible theories behind it, but a well-regarded one proposes that mixing up the attack methods will prevent the target from relying on a single excellent countermeasure. In the case of a mech, we have a large degree of confidence that the current tribulation will test its attack, defense and mobility capabilities. Your work cannot be allowed to have a shortcoming in any of these areas!"
Ves became shocked at this. Were lightning tribulations so sophisticated nowadays, or was this a unique trait of the ones sent by Messier 87?
"Meow meow meow!"
Lucky reacted with alarm as the storm clouds from above finally sent down the 19th 'strike'!
Instead of launching a straightforward lightning bolt that attempted to strike the Elemental Lord in an instant, a large quantity of thin golden bolts had condensed into the shape of hundreds of birds.
"This is impossible!"
Lightning bolts shouldn't be able to condense into such stable forms except if they were forcibly willed into existence by high-ranking mech pilots, but the tribulation brought them into existence anyway!
The air became a lot more charged with energy now that those ominous energy birds left the clouds.
Loud sounds of chirping filled up the entire space, forcing Major Jankowski to reduce the sensitivity of the audible sensors.
"They're coming down!"
"Shoot them down! Use wide area fire attacks if possible!" Ves quickly urged.
"The lightning birds are closing in too quickly! The fire fey is working as fast as it can to produce the right attacks, but there is not enough time!"
The Elemental Lord had no choice but to rely on its existing arrangements to withstand this wave of attacks.
As a drone mech, its primary weapons consisted of its spurs. The fire fey was equipped with a small luminar crystal cannon while the earth fey was armed with a compact gauss cannon.
Both weapon systems were most suited to fire against single targets, but that happened to be the least effective way to shoot down all of these lightning birds, especially when they spread out and surrounded the Elemental Lord from multiple directions.
"Activate the azure energy shield!"
The powerful transphasic hyper energy shield came online just in time for dozens of lightning birds to crash right against the newly formed barrier!
Alarms blared inside the cockpit as the large quantity of crashing lightning birds rapidly drained the integrity of this powerful shield.
Ves grew horrified at how quickly these small birds stressed the defenses of the shield.
The lightning rods and other defenses generated by the earth fey were not as effective in diverting the power of these strikes away from the mech frame.
The birds were just too damn nimble and flexible!
By the time the last batch of lightning birds attempted to overload the failing azure energy shield, Jankowski skillfully forced it to shut down at the final moment, thereby preventing the crucial generator from enduring excessive strain.
Though it would definitely take a while for the shield generator to recover from the earlier stresses, it would still be able to do its job somewhat well.
Bzzt! Bzzzt! Bzzzt!
When the final surviving lightning birds struck the Elemental Lord, they targeted multiple different sections, causing vulnerable modules and the rear section to sustain moderate damage.
Ves and Lucky briefly became subjected to a pulsing lighting massage. The effect was quite different from a single big shock.
Though Ves was able to endure this round of shocks with relative ease, he was not so sure his body would be able to hold out as well if all of those birds successfully managed to strike the Elemental Lord in quick succession!
Major Jankowski grimaced as he studied the condition of his mech. "Most of our systems are still in good condition, but repeated attacks will definitely wear them down. What is worse is that our azure energy shield is down for the time being."
"We cannot stay in one place." Ves concluded. "Previously, the tribulation only struck our mech with an instant lightning bolt with perfect accuracy, so it was useless to move. This time, those lightning birds are not moving nearly as fast, so you should be able to kite them and drag out their approach. This will help us cope with the next attack."
Chirp! Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!
The thunderstorm had unleashed another wave of lightning birds!
These ones looked a little larger and brighter than the ones that came before. The punishment they could inflict had undoubtedly increased!
The Elemental Lord no longer acted like a target dummy, though. Under the excellent control of Major Jankowski, the mech and its accompanying fey launched into the air and started to move away from Diandi Base.
The mech needed a lot of maneuvering room in order to address this latest crisis!
As the Elemental Lord boosted away, the lightning birds still moved fast enough for them to be able to catch up to the speeding machine.
However, their net movement speed had dropped to such an extent that the Elemental Lord was able to launch a lot of shots at the pursuing energy birds!
The fire fey and the earth fey both shot purple fire beams and transphasic hyper projectiles respectively.
Meanwhile, the main body itself contributed as well by firing hyper laser beams from its relatively slim luminar crystal rifle.
It would have been difficult to kill more than one bird at a time with every attack, but because the movement trajectory of the Elemental Lord forced the lightning birds to compress and narrow their formation, every shot managed to eliminate three to five birds at once!
"Yes! It is working!"
Only a fraction of the birds were left by the time they closed in and collided against the main body of the Elemental Lord.
"Meow- meow- meow- meow!"