The Mech Touch Chapter 1089
1087 Economical Design
Ves gained an entirely new conception of spaceborn mechs after acquiring Space Knight Mastery I. Riding in the mind of a veteran space knight taught him that space knights constantly worried about being able to cover their colleagues.
While mobility was important to do their jobs, it was their ability to endure damage that really mattered. If they wished, they would rather give up the former in order to enhance their ability to do the latter.
"It's a constant struggle. Without sufficient mobility, they can't keep up with their colleagues. Without enough tanking ability, they won't last long enough to provide meaningful protection."
Nonetheless, riding in the mind of Eloise Pelican also taught him that a mech like his would appeal to mech pilots like her. His upcoming super-medium space knight offered substantially more protection without compromising its mobility entirely.
Of course, the huge learning curve associated with using polarizing module effectively might hinder their adoption. However, polarizing modules and shield modules were not entirely strange to mech pilots of the Bright Republic considering their more widespread use in second-rate states.
"As long as their ability to withstand damage is big enough, all the other costs are worth it from their perspective!"
This realization gave him confidence as he reimagined his upcoming space knight design. He expressly worked to accommodate some of the features that space knight pilots like Eloise Pelican eagerly demanded from their mechs.
Perhaps unconsciously, Ves included a couple of touches from the Valiant Warden's design into his own work. He admired the bond that Eloise developed with her mech. No matter how much damage the machine sustained, with care and attention it always stood back up to fight another day.
It was the greatest expression of one of his ideals. Though forced by circumstances, the Insurmountable Drakes did their best to treat their mechs right and to value them as priceless assets.
"Many knight mechs are expected to endure an incredible amount of punishment over their lifespans. Suchs mechs need to be incredibly robust and enduring, far more than the average mech."
Ves already learned this lesson with his first Mastery, Yet living alongside the rigors that Eloise endured as she tried everything to extend the lifespan of her mech underscored this aspect.
Space knights struggled to last ten years of constant use! If not for the resourcefulness of the Insurmountable Drakes, the Valiant Warden would have long been scrapped and dismantled for parts.
"It's a sad affair when mechs are used beyond their capacity."
The new draft of the space knight that took shape undeniably carried the influence of his latest Mastery experience. When Ves revised the sketches, he allowed Qilanxo's spiritual fragment to guide some of his design choices as usual.
Perhaps due to the influence of Eloise and the Valiant Warden in its spiritual makeup, the fragment favored different choices this time. More endurance. More resilience. More longevity.
All of this didn't come without a price. The additional structural integrity and armor plating that Ves added to his draft slowed it down even further. The first draft of the mech already suggested that it would move rather sluggish, but this time it leaned even further towards the ineffectual mobility of a heavy mech.
In essence, the new design choices showed a distinct lack of care towards mobility. His draft design possessed nearly the same mobility as a heavy space knight but without the sheer amount of damage absorbing capacity of one.
"What is the advantage of such a mech?"
Perhaps theoretically, his space knight did not offer any distinct advantages over a regular heavy space knight.
"Yet in fact there are two major advantages. First, it is much cheaper than a genuine heavy mech. Second, it demands much less maintenance."
Only well-funded, highly-organized mech forces such as military mech regiments made use of heavy mechs. This was because operating them was very expensive and demanding in resources. Not only was acquiring them upfront ludicrously expensive, they also required a lot of servicing. Any major damage incurred to its high-quality but expensive armor plating quite literally cost hundreds of millions of credits to repair!
"It's simply not economical for private outfits to operate a heavy mech, certainly not one that is expressly designed to take damage and require regular repairs to keep running!"
If there was one important advantage that Ves brought to the table with his new design, it was that it had been designed to be as cost-efficient as possible when performing its singular most important role.
Ves estimated that he would be able to contain the price of his space knight to under 100 million credits. It was not as large as a heavy mech and did not require nearly enough metal to fabricate a copy.
More importantly, a large portion of its defensive capability came from the polarizing module. By covering a section of armor with a special polarizing field, the only damage the mech sustained was draining its energy cells a lot faster.
As long as the mech did not withstand too much damage at once, it would theoretically be able to offload all of the incoming firepower to its polarizing field!
Even though that would drain his space knight's energy reserves rather quickly, it was a lot cheaper to recharge spent energy cells than to replace damaged armor plating!
"Energy is cheap. High-quality materials, especially those used in armor plating, are very expensive to come by. It's a reality that mercenary corps and many other private outfits spend much of their earnings from their missions to repair the damage their mechs have incurred. Many times, the cost of repairs can even exceed the payment they received from their employers!"
Many mercenary corps in fact incorporated provisions in their contracts that stated that their employers would compensate for their repairs.
Yet how many employers would agree to such a clause? What if the mercenary corps deliberately piloted their mechs recklessly in order to get rid of their old and malfunctioning machines? Their employer would be on the hook for all of the replacement costs!
In practice, the two sides always negotiated the extent to which an employer would cover the repairs of the mercenary corps. This usually ended up somewhere around the tune of fifty percent or less.
Usually, employers held a bit more leverage during these negotiations because they could easily offer the assignment to another, more desperate mercenary corps.
The economics of running a mercenary corps aside, what Ves really wanted to play into was their demand on acquiring mechs that demanded less repairs!
Part of the reason why mercenary commanders disliked knight mechs was because they were money pits!
"Even so, operating a couple of knight mechs is better than to let their more vulnerable mechs incur all that damage instead."
Yet that did not feel like much of a consolation to the mercenary commanders when they studied the accounts. How would they feel about their defensive mechs when they occupied at least seventy to ninety percent of the money allocated to maintenance and repairs?
"This disparity in costs is exactly why the polarizing module matters a lot. If it can save my space knight from incurring a lot of material damage during battles, then the cost savings it provides over its lifespan has paid for its acquisition in spades!"
Due to the larger size of his space knight, Ves could not avoid putting a high price tag on his upcoming mech model. Yet he hoped that some mech buyers would be smart enough to realize that the total cost of operating his new mech was a lot more generous over its entire lifespan!
"Well, not everyone is smart enough to take the entire lifetime cost of a mech into account. It also doesn't help much if the mech gets destroyed during its first few fights."
This was why many mercenary corps still resorted to budget knight mechs. They were easier to buy and easier to replace if they broke. Even though outfits expended a lot more money due to the frequent replacements, it felt a lot better than buying one very expensive mech.
Would they even dare to commit such an expensive mech in battle?
All of these psychological considerations sounded a bit stupid, but Ves knew it was part of human behavior. The mech commanders in charge of leading private outfits always came from the ranks of mech pilots.
Mech pilots generally attended mech academies once they found out about their genetic aptitude when they reached ten-years old. The curriculum of a mech academy largely consisted of mech piloting-related courses.
This meant that mech cadets predominantly spent their time on studying how to pilot knight mechs, how to improve their marksmanship, how to employ rudimentary tactics and so on. Learning all of this took up the majority of their time and energy.
As for other topics like math, history, science and humanities? Please. As long as a mech pilot could figure out the answer of two plus two, they really didn't need to know more in order to be a good soldier on the battlefield!
This lopsided education system led to the unfortunate circumstance that mech commanders were almost always awful administrators. They lacked the required administrative and business acumen to run a profitable outfit!
"The smarter commanders are prudent enough to delegate these matters to competent managers. The more conceited ones believe that all of their decisions are right regardless of their actual competence in these areas!"
From all the industry publications that Ves had read over the years, the latter occurred far more frequently than they should!
"Mech pilots are rather stupid in that way." Ves shook his head.
The important implication of this reality was that his space knight might not be able to catch on to the mech market. Ves had to take the unfortunate possibility into account that mech commanders were too short-sighted to appreciate his upcoming design!
"Not every mech commander is that stupid, though. I'm sure that my mech will be able to sell as long as NORA Consolidated is involved."
The marketing prowess of one of the premier mech companies in the Bright Republic dwarfed anything that the LMC or Marcella Bollinger could accomplish! As long as Professor Ventag put his entire support behind the joint design, then it was not impossible for their first cooperative design to become a success!
"I'm not resigned to design a technical masterpiece that flops on the market!"
Just like Eloise Pelican, his fighting spirit surged despite the many odds against him. Regardless of whether they were mech pilots of mech designers, both of them shared something in common!
Mech pilots struggled against threats on the battlefield.
Mech designers fought to earn the mech market's recognition for their mech designs.
Although the latter didn't put their lives on the line, their battles were just as arduous!
With these economical considerations in the back of his mind, Ves completed his second draft of upcoming mech design.
"It's time to see what other people think of my design."
Ves decided to invite all of his confidants as well as the three little chicks that recently joined the Avatars of Myth.
All of them entered his imposing penthouse office shortly afterwards. While people like Calsie and Gavin had already become used to the impressive decor of his office, the three little chicks were practically wide-eyed as they became affected by the atmosphere their surroundings conveyed.
"Please take a seat, everyone." Ves gestured them to the comfortable couches at the corner of the office in order to ease the tensions.
They first chatted a little. Ves found out that Melkor already ordered a decent landbound striker mech from Bentheim in order to provide Rhode Larkinson with a new machine.
As for Chette and Jannzi Larkinson, they would be forced to stick to the simulators for a while longer. It took a lot more time, planning and organization to supplement the Avatars of Myth with their first spaceborn mech company.
"How soon do you think we'll have our first spaceborn mechs?" Ves asked.
"A couple of months at the very least." Melkor answered. "The biggest problem we are facing right now is that we need to find a capable and experienced spaceborn mech officer to lead the new company. It's very hard to attract mech officers of that caliber to join a completely unknown personal mech force like ours. Despite our impressive-sounding name, we haven't accomplished much to earn a famed reputation."
Ves learned in the frontier that reputation was very important to every outfit! Reputation not only deterred troublemakers and opportunists, but also attracted skilled, experienced and capable mech pilots.
In this regard, despite their midrange and premium mech roster, the Avatars of Myth hadn't been tested enough in battle to enjoy the regard they ought to deserve!
"Do you think the Avatars of Myth need a bit more seasoning, Melkor?"
"It helps if you grant us permission to accept small mercenary contracts. Some of our men are getting bored by the constant training."
"Do so. I trust your judgement in this matter."