Chapter 157: Stealth Armor
Ves began to design his variant in earnest. First, he began with his usual ritual of focusing a desired image into an intent. He only had the Dogged One in mind, so his practiced mind easily slipped into his desired state.
As a habit, Ves started with the weapon first. The Tryops came with a fairly excellent laser rifle that had already been integrated in the base model’s targeting systems. It came with two default modes, one meant for power and precision and another one for close-to-medium range strafing.
While the laser rifle adequately fulfilled both roles, the mech itself fared poorly on the latter front. Ves had to consider whether he wanted to keep this shooting mode. Just because the mech fared poorly at closer ranges didn’t mean that the rapid-fire mode had no use.
Yet when he envisioned the Dogged One, he imagined a complete dedication to the crossbow. Even if the weapon only excelled in one single aspect, the Dogged One always made it work by choosing the right battles.
“Limitations shapes behavior. Rifleman mechs always let the enemy come to them. They can choose to engage or retreat at will.”
Ves kept his goal of designing a training mech in mind when he chose to remove the rapid-fire mode. While its absence might not make his model very popular, it nevertheless enhanced its focus. Mech pilots promoted their mastery faster if they dedicated their training to a single aspect rather than flitting around between different styles.
He proceeded to extensively overhaul the laser rifle. He wanted to turn it into a compact laser cannon in a way. The weapon should be extremely precise at medium-to-long ranges and its laser beam should cripple any mech when it struck a weak point.
He tore out many redundant and outdated components. In their place, he quickly designed a couple of revised components made of different alloys that improved the rifle’s maximum power and heat emission. Ves had to make sure the weapon wouldn’t melt when it fired a couple of shots, though he estimated the weapon could only handle five shots at a time before it required an extensive cooldown.
“Five shots isn’t much for a normal rifle.” He thought. If anyone else heard that Ves wanted to redesign a rifle that could only shoot this much in a single encounter, they’d call him crazy. “Once they see it in action, they’ll see why it doesn’t matter.”
By converting the rifle into a high-powered compact laser cannon, Ves completely transcended the 2-star domain. He borrowed heavily from the insights gleaned from Dr. Kawasaki’s research notes. Studying the forbidden material had taught him much on how to make gamma lasers workable, though he lacked the foundation to design a graser rifle from scratch.
Furthermore, he also borrowed some design elements from the Caesar Augustus’ wrist laser cannons. The weapon system employed an extremely compact arrangement that allowed the hybrid knight to fire off a substantial amount of firepower, though its accuracy left much to be desired. The practical example allowed Ves to slim down his rifle design to a reasonable size.
Compared to the jumbo-sized laser cannons, his own version still looked like a regular rifle. It only massed a little bit more than the base model. By sacrificing the rapid-fire mode, Ves freed up sufficient space to soup up its precision mode to a ludicrous level.
It only took one-and-a-half days to complete the redesign, but Ves wasn’t done. He spent four more days subjecting the weapon to a large variety of tests.
He uncovered a large amount of flaws. His implementation of borrowed knowledge had been awfully rough, which indicated that he hadn’t fully mastered the theories behind these elements.
Ves expected something like this to happen, so he simply shrugged and plugged the holes whenever he encountered them. Through this constant iterative process of testing and fixing, the rifle gained a more refined appearance, though it also boasted significantly more mass.
He had no other choice. He underestimated the amount of buffers a high-powered laser rifle demanded. Many simulations frequently ended badly due to minute unintentional heat dispersion. Some of the rifle’s more sensitive components had a tendency to melt into a puddle if that happened.
The materials he had to work with limited his options. While Dr. Kawasaki had the luxury of working with modern materials, Ves could only choose from a small selection of exotics. What he couldn’t accomplish with quality, he had to substitute it with quantity. Hence the added bulk.
The only good thing that came out of it was that the rifle could now handle six shots at a time.
“Now that I’m done with the weapon, let’s move on to the mech.”
He already completed one major modification. The next phase entailed modifying the frame to compliment its intended fighting style. In order to be an effective mech right out of the gate, it had to avoid enemy detection and pursuit.
“Didn’t I already own a license for a particle generator?”
His Mist Prowler threw up a cloud of vapor and particles in order to obscure his surroundings. While the Mist Prowler used the cloud offensively, it could also be used as a tool for escape.
He browsed his existing licenses and saw that he owned the virtual license of the Relix Systems Valhalla Particle Ejection Module 1st Edition.
Before he integrated the particle generator into his design, he first had to revamp the entire frame. He did his usual routine of updating and optimizing the mech’s internal layout. His previous experience along with his broad if somewhat shallow knowledge allowed him to make many minor modifications.
As a stationary mech employed strictly behind a defensive line, the base model suffered from an abysmally low RF and CF. Anything that penetrated past its relatively lackluster armor could easily cripple the Tryops.
While Ves considered doing nothing, his professional attitude forced him to at least give his variant a chance to survive. He spent quite a bit of time increasing the mech’s redundancy, but focused mostly on increasing its internal compartmentalization.
His design was not meant to be a tank, and he didn’t wish to compromise on the mech’s offensive capabilities. This forced him to make a lot of compromises in order to insure his design possessed enough high capacity energy cells and solid heat sinks in order to complement its demanding weapon.
As the days went by, Ves continued to tweak and redesign the mech’s internals until he became satisfied with what he had. The mech’s survivability was never going to break any records, but now it could at least withstand a couple more potshots.
That left his variant’s armor.
If Ves wanted to turn his design into a viable long-ranged ambusher, then he would have to make it much more difficult to detect. Even in a thickly forested environment, mechs could still detect other mechs.
If you thought about it, mechs were giant hunks of metal that generated a lot of power and heat. This gave a lot of mech designers headaches because an early detection could easily ruin an entire mission.
“The particle generator is no use in this case. It’s hard to stay hidden if there’s a giant cloud of sensor-blocking particles hovering over your hiding spot. It’s like holding up a giant ‘I AM HERE’ sign.”
Ves had to turn to Iron Spirit’s catalog in order to find another answer. He entered the armor section and filtered out everything he didn’t want. Nothing too heavy, nothing too light, nothing too obvious, he briskly threw away anything that failed to meet his standards.
He only came up with a couple of choices in the end. Ves simply picked the most effective one in dampening signals and containing heat. It also happened to be the least durable armor system, but you couldn’t have everything.
[ArnodSys Co. GS Formula 15]: 250,000 bright credits
It cost a decent amount of credits, but Ves could afford it with Carlos constantly pumping out a Mark II every week. He’d been supervising his employee’s work from time to time. Besides helping him out of a few tight spots, Carlos did a decent job in fabricating his silver label mechs.
The newly incorporated Living Mech Corporation charged around 30 million credits for each silver label mech. To be honest, for a lastgen mech with uncompressed armor that might have been a little much.
Still, without another production line, he couldn’t ramp up his production. As long as Marcella kept the orders coming, Ves didn’t mind pricing out the majority of his audience.
“The good times won’t last.” He reminded himself with a grim expression.
The prices of many raw materials already started the rise on the open market. Many suppliers already strained themselves by keeping up with the rising demand from their existing customers.
If the total cost rose by thirty percent, Ves would have to stop selling his silver label mechs. While he could still earn some profit with his gold label mechs, he’d be forced to lower his asking price over time.
“There’s no future in lastgen mechs. I’ll have to make the most out of the current buying spree.”
Ves was essentially on the clock. He had to gather enough credits and merits in order to reconstruct the Dortmund and purchase all of the production licenses required to design a fully original mech.
He estimated that he only had two years at most, though the war could easily throw a wrench in his plans. Hopefully the Vesians would have the decency to delay their invasion until Ves finished his original design.
“Hah, fat luck that will happen.” He laughed.
He resumed designing his training mech. He easily slipped back into the appropriate mood and shaped its armor using the newly purchased GS Formula 15.
As an armor system focused on stealth, it essentially focused on two fronts. First, it prevented the frame from leaking heat. Its inner layers cleverly absorbed excess heat and prevented it from radiating outwards. At the time of its invention, such a system didn’t work too well in active battles.
“It’s good enough if it works on a stationary mech. The armor system only needs to hide my mech before it fires a shot.”
Second, it performed its most basic task of dampening various kinds of signals. It naturally took on a matte dark brown shade and hardly brightened up when someone flashed a light at it.
Besides dampening electromagnetic signals, it also limited the effectiveness of other kinds of systems such as sonar, motion and gravitic sensors. Naturally, it only worked up to a point. Since Ves intended his design to fight at a distance, it should be adequate for its purposes.
This allowed Ves to build up quite a stealthy mech. The rifleman mech took on a dirt-colored angular design that frankly didn’t look very pretty. It carried a strange but intimidating demeanor that made it clear the mech meant business. Ves opted not to add any flourishes in order to avoid ruining the effectiveness of its stealth coating.
“Now I’ll have to add the particle generator.”
Ves borrowed from his earlier implementation of a particle generator backpack module. He didn’t recycle his earlier work but started from scratch. He managed to slim it down a bit even as he added in the familiar Festive Cloud Generator. Together with an outer shell of Formula 15, hardly any sensors should be able to pick it up.
Now that Ves completed the basic design, he subjected it to a whole barrage of tests. He never worked with stealth armor before, so the simulations exposed a lot of errors. Certain ways in which he shaped the armor turned out to limit the effectiveness of the dampening. Ves spent quite a lot of time revising the faulty sections.
He continued on with his work until Marcella finally called back.
“Good day Ves. I’m calling you in order to tell you that your ship is on her way to Cloudy Curtain.”
“That’s great news!” He cheered as he paused putting the finishing touches on his design. “I thought it would take a little longer in order to repair my ship.”
“Me too, but the shipyard worked overtime. The boss decided to get involved in person. He practically fell in love with your state-of-the-art corvette.”
They both chuckled a bit. Ves could understand the sentiment. He’d likely drool for hours if a cutting edge nextgen mech rolled into his workshop.
“What about the crew?”
“Your ship is staffed and ready to go, but…” Marcella’s words trailed off.
“Is there something wrong?”
Great. Ves wondered what Marcella pulled off. It sounded fairly serious if a smooth talker like her stumbled upon her words.