The Mech Touch Volume 5: The Next Mech Generation Chapter 1955 - Anti-Crowd

"Let's put DIVA's commission aside for the moment." Ves suggested. "All of this is a bit new to me. I think I need to study Hexer mech designs more extensively in order to develop a vision that conforms to your people's demands."

The rebellious part of him wanted to subvert the commission in some way. He wanted to sneak a design past the Hexers that secretly empowered male mech pilots.

Ves immediately thought of the Adonis Colossus. Of all of his mech designs, this custom mech was the epitome of an alpha male design!

His first idea was to reuse Bravo, its design spirit, into his Hexer mech design.

Perhaps he could slowly insert some much needed backbone in the spine of those repressed male mech pilots.

It was a stupid idea.

The Hexers probably watched their boys like a hawk. Any adverse change would doubtlessly be investigated! If it turned out that all they shared in common was the mech they piloted, then Ves would get into a lot of trouble!

As much as he wanted to give those poor men a much-needed boost, the price was too much. He would get into so much trouble with the Hexers that he might ruin all of the goodwill he earned so far. Gloriana would be displeased as well, which was an even greater reason for him to refrain from messing around!

Besides, as a matter of principle, Ves despised duplicity when it came to commissions. As a mech designer, he had to be professional and design a mech that best fit the demands of his client.

Perhaps he broke or bent these principles sometimes, but generally Ves truly valued honesty in mech design!

People may lie, but mechs were always honest.

Ves didn't want to stoop to sabotaging or subverting the intentions of his clients just because he was in a bad mood. That was unprofessional and would certainly harm his reputation if his shenanigans became known.

He glanced towards his girlfriend, who offered him a brilliant smile.

He doubted that Gloriana would let him get away with any of his vile plots. While she deviated from the mold of a stereotypical Hexer, she still cared a lot about her home state! She would never do anything that harmed the Hegemony!

She stretched out her finger. "I will transfer a selection of iconic Hexer designs as well as my personal notes to you. Would you like me to pass it to your cranial implant?"

"NO! Ahem, just send it to my comm as usual. I'll peruse it in my own time."

While his Archimedes Rubal could fit an enormous amount of data, Ves was not about to fill it up with junk! How will his implant shape his thoughts when it was filled with mech designs that denigrated their male mech pilots and nonsensical propaganda of how boys shouldn't be entrusted with responsibilities?

Although the implant was typically designed to prevent this kind of bleed-through, Ves was not going to take any risks on this matter!

After Gloriana transferred the files to his comm, they went back to the original topic.

"We can tackle multiple projects at the same time." He said. "We can work on DIVA's commission at the same time as designing the LMC's next commercial mech. Let's exchange some ideas on the latter. Do you have any suggestions?"

"You want to design a third-class mech, right? Then perhaps you can design something with an eye towards our own needs."

"We already have the Bright Warrior, Gloriana. It's not just a single mech design, but a platform that encompasses four different configurations. In fact, we can even design additional configurations as long as it's not too extreme."

Gloriana shook her head. "I know, but the Bright Warrior platform isn't a solution to everything. First, demand for it heavily outstrips supply."

The availability of Breyer alloy still remained very limited, and the entire fleet only offered two advanced workshops that were capable of fabricating Bright Warrior mechs.

"Second, not all of our mech pilots are able to promote to second-class mech pilots within a year." She continued. "Some people are simply less talented or need more time to learn how to handle a higher class of mechs. In the interim, they need a serviceable mech design to perform their duties. While your Avatars and Sentinels are fine with piloting third-party mechs, I think they probably prefer to pilot mechs with glows."

He agreed with her. As a mech designer, how could he continue to rely so heavily on the products of other mech designers?

Certainly, there were cases where it was acceptable for mech designers to rely on other people's products.

Someone who specialized in a specific type or category of mechs like Ketis wouldn't be able to design her own ranged mechs.

Lack of familiarity or expertise was another reason for Ves to rely on third-party mechs. While he considered himself to be rather versatile, he possessed enough self-knowledge to know that he wouldn't be able to design a fantastic heavy mech.

Considering that his slower mech pilots wouldn't be able to turn into second-class mech pilots anytime soon, it was not a waste of time to design a third-class mech that fit their needs.

Ves came up with a set of requirements. "Since my Larkinson Clan will be roving in space, we'll have to design a spaceborn mech. It has to be able to fill a niche in our mech roster but also be commercially viable. I'm not giving up on designing a mech that appeals to the market."

"What will be the price tier of your mech?"

"Premium." He decided. "Not too extravagant, but not cheap by any means. It has to be a mech that shouldn't be difficult to field en masse, but it has to be more than cannon fodder. Our mech pilots deserve better than being treated as disposable meat shields."

He implicitly criticized the Hexer approach to mech design with that remark, and Gloriana knew it. She winced at his acid tone.

"You're in charge when it comes to mass market mechs. I'm in charge when we design a custom mech. We agreed on that at the start of our collaboration."

He was being a bit too harsh on her. Normally, she often adjusted to his preferences in their collaborations. He was being a bit more catty than usual after Gloriana revealed another ugly aspect about Hexer society.

"Let's list out some mech types." He suggested.

"Okay." Gloriana pressed her finger against her lips. "Um, our Bright Warriors already fulfill the basic functions, but the Battle of Kesseling VIII showed that we are still short on a couple of aspects."

"Such as?"

"Well, we could use a better solution against a flood of low-quality mechs. In both the space battle and the land battle, the CRC attacked us in tandem with foreign mercenaries. Since they can do so once, they can do it again. Besides, not all of our enemies are powerful state actors. What if we cross horns with a major pirate syndicate? What if we enter into a vendetta with a powerful mercenary organization? The Bright Warrior's configurations are quite good at confronting powerful mechs, but they don't possess an inherent advantage against massed attacks."

Her words had merit. While Ves didn't have the time to study the Battle of Kesseling VIII in detail yet, from what he had seen, quantity could be just as scary as quality when the numbers were great enough!

However, providing a solution was easier said than done. In the same class, no mech could mow down dozens of enemy mechs with a couple of attacks!

The only exception was expert mechs, but they were not in his consideration right now.

Some mechs offered better options than others against massed attacks.

"What about artillery mechs?" Ves proposed.

"Medium artillery mechs or heavy artillery mechs?"

"Medium, of course. Heavy mechs are generally reserved to state actors and mech militaries. It's too c.u.mbersome for us to field heavy mechs. They require specialized knowledge to design, fabricate and maintain."

She nodded in agreement. "You aren't wrong, but third-class artillery mechs are rather limited. The reason why most third-class artillery mechs fall under the heavyweight class is because they are very demanding mechs. All of their might and firepower requires lots of capacity."

"Most of our battles are fairly short, though." Ves retorted. "We aren't invading a fortification or anything. We can make do with less capacity as long as the battle doesn't last long enough to require a resupply. Even if our medium artillery mechs are forced to return to their carriers, it shouldn't take too long to replenish their magazines and energy cells."

"Hmm, I still think they are too limited. While they are reasonably effective at a distance, they aren't necessarily good against a group of mechs, especially in a space environment. I was thinking about designing a striker mech."

"A striker mech?"

"Yes, a striker mech. You never designed a striker mech before, right?"

He nodded. "Striker mechs are on my list. I always wanted to design one. I'm not so sure that this is the right time."

"Striker mechs armed with flamethrowers can be an effective deterrent against massed attacks."

"I don't entirely agree, Gloriana. They're less effective in this role in space. The distances are greater and the formations are more dispersed. While striker mechs can still be useful in fending of light skirmishers and other thinly-armored mechs, their armaments are notoriously poor at piercing armor."

"That's not important. The Bright Warriors are already capable of defeating tough opponents. What we need is a mech that can wipe out the riffraff in the most efficient way possible. A striker mech is the obvious answer."

While Ves didn't fully buy in her argument, he couldn't provide any alternatives.

It was different for higher classes of mechs. Second-class mech design opened up a lot of options. For example, an energy rifleman mech could put its weapon in a wide-area scatter mode.

However, at the bottom class, Ves was mainly confined to specialized mechs with hardly any room for gimmicks and gadgets.

After a bit more discussion, they decided to settle on a spaceborn medium striker mech.

To be honest, due to his recent Mastery experience, Ves wanted to design a light skirmisher. While he hadn't learned as much about light skirmishers than he expected, he did pick up a handful of insights that he wanted to test in a mech design.

A new light skirmisher model wasn't as needed as a striker mech, though.

The Avatars and Sentinels already fielded decent commercial light skirmishers. They also fielded a handful of striker mechs, but they weren't as suited to counter massed attacks as they wanted.

Gloriana doodled a very rough sketch in the air. The projected lines came together to form a mech that resembled a knight mech without a shield.

"Since this mech is meant to counter massed enemies, it's mainly reactive rather than proactive. Mobility isn't as important. Instead, we should make it as tough as our budget allows."

She added a crude representation of a flamethrower a moment later.

"Cheap mechs usually skimp out on heat management. Their maximum heat tolerance is very limited, and it's very easy to overwhelm them with heat. Even if the enemy avoids the flames, they can still act as a deterrent and keep them at bay."

Ves studied the sketch and tried to extrapolate its performance if they fleshed it out.

"With our budget, it's difficult to make the flamethrower potent enough. The armor system of a defensive mech already demands a lot of money. There is hardly any money left to improve the weapon."

"That's not necessarily the case, at least when it comes to us." She grinned. "As long as the LMC gets back on track, our financial situation will improve. We can outfit our striker mechs with sturdier flamethrowers and more potent propellants. If we have to go back to saving money, then we can just switch to cheaper propellants for a time."

That.. actually sounded reasonable.

The Mech Touch

Author: Exlor

(8.5 /122 votes)