Considering the transient nature of his design, Ves skipped the growth element of the X-Factor. In order to win over the test pilots as quickly as possible, he decided to focus on immediate impact.
By now, Ves developed a standard procedure of sorts when trying to shape the X-Factor. At his current level of concentration, he’d be able to work with a maximum of three images, all of which served a different purpose that would synergise with each other when they came together.
The first image defined and enhanced the role of the design. The second image centered around a powerful totem animal that introduced the right mix of primal instincts into the design. The third image should be based around the myth of a legendary human figure in order to strengthen his design’s higher level cognition.
With this division of images, Ves established his first formal X-Factor technique. He called it the Triple Division for convenience.
The first image should be an idealized knight mech. To maximize the compatibility between his mech and the test pilots, Ves wanted to ground the experience with something familiar. By building up the foundation of his X-Factor on the knight mech itself, Ves insured that no matter how many individual touches he applied, the test pilots would still feel at home.
Sometimes it might not be a good idea to put the archetype central to the design in question. Too much familiarity bred contempt, or at least made the design appear a little boring.
In order to balance out the familiar, Ves counterbalanced it with a strong and invigorating totem animal.
“Let’s go with a hexapod king.”
Though he’d never seen a hexapod king in the flesh, he intimately studied the Kaius, which was based on its carcass. The sheer power and terror of them both made for a profound image that had long been seared into his mind.
Choosing the hexapod king as the totem animal for his design shifted its emphasis from defense to offense. Though his design would very likely lack the endless power supply of the beasts, it would still be able to inherit much of its primal ferocity.
Choosing such a savage totem animal risked getting out of hand, so Ves decided to temper it with a more rational human legend. What kind of mythical figure could he conjure up that fit well with the design without being too excessive?
Ves went with the image of a mounted knight called the Leading Edge, or Sir Edge for short. He’d been born in the saddle and had been brought up to serve as a professional knight since he first showed his aptitude for riding.
As a consummate cavalryman, Sir Edge had mastered fighting in both a mounted and dismounted state. On foot, he could hold a shield wall as any other shield bearer, but he truly came to being when he sat on the saddle. He knew how to keep an overview of the battle and choose the right timing to go in for a thundering charge.
In the heat of the battle, he tossed almost every consideration aside and fought with his heart’s content, bellowing war cries all around!
As Ves became increasingly immersed in the backstory of the Leading Edge, his competition hadn’t sit still. Oleg already sprinted towards a design terminal and drew up a basic schematic based on what he thought would be a ‘comfortable’ knight.
As a young and talented Apprentice Mech Designer, Oleg developed his own approach to mech design. He possessed a much deeper foundation in the nuts and bolts of mech design, so he hardly needed to pause in the process of picking out components.
Unlike Ves, Oleg decided to stick with the classics and design a fully defensive knight. While his design still stuck to the medium weight class, Oleg pretty much jacked up its armor budget to the maximum possible amount.
“A knight can never have too much armor.” He thought as he rapidly refined his rough schematic into something presentable.
He utilized the full functions of the advanced design software in his terminal. A separate projector constantly subjected the latest version of the design to a barrage of standard simulations, which the hidden super processors buried underneath the workshop churned out in rapid tempo.
With the help of these powerful functions, Oleg rapidly eliminated the weak points in his design. His optimization-based approach to designing his mech made full use of the abundant amount of processing power at his disposal. Without the corresponding amount of resources, Oleg’s approach would never achieve results so quickly.
The only downside to this method was that Oleg exerted relatively little control over the direction of his simulations. It constantly spat out error-prone results that led him into dead-ends. This forced him to backtrack on his designs until he reached the point where he could take a different path.
His approach also let go of any attempts to adhere to a strong vision. Even Oleg didn’t know how his design ultimately looked like. Some designers couldn’t even image working without a definite goal in mind, but Oleg embraced the inherent uncertainty.
It didn’t matter how the end product looked like. As long as its specs surpassed the previous version, Oleg was happy.
In contrast, Ves let his vision guide his design choices. Once he split his focused and dipped it into the Triple Division, his mind became filled with the righteous purpose of shaping it into reality.
“Let’s see what I have to work with.” He said and opened the catalog in his terminal’s design suite. The parts listed in the catalog came in different sizes and shapes. Even a minor deviation had a lot of implications to his ultimate design.
Instead of making calculative choices based on specs, Ves took a step back and viewed the parts in a holistic manner. Each time he saw a part, he asked himself whether they conformed to the images buzzing in his mind.
Most of the time, the images buzzed in disapproval. Only a couple of times did they show their approval. He slowly ticked off the necessary components until he ended up with a full set of components.
At first glance, they didn’t seem powerful. Ves ended up passing over the most powerful components in favor of those that harmonized well with his vision and each other. They all possessed an intrinsic underlying rule that Ves didn’t fully understand.
“Why these parts?”
At first glance, the frame and limbs didn’t fit with each other. The legs provided a lot of mobility when paired with a powerful engine, but were rather vulnerable to damage to the rear. The torso area on the other hand possessed a lot of bulk in order to accomodate a powerful engine and protect its internal components well.
Most notably, Ves picked an asymmetric set of arms. The shield arm was larger than the sword arm so that it could brace the heavy shield without breaking apart. Meanwhile, its sword arm might lack in brute strength, but its added speed and flexibility opened up a lot of movements that conventional knights would never be able to pull off.
The combination didn’t make sense at first glance, but Ves quickly figured out the rationale of this selection.
The strengthened legs optimized his mech’s charge. Its weaknesses were largely mitigated as long as the mech constantly faced the enemy.
The heavy torso and shield arm allowed it to remain standing under fire or use its bulk in an offensive capacity by bashing through its opposition.
Its flexible sword arm gave his mech the opportunity to outduel a melee opponent. The relative lack of strength in the sword arm didn’t matter because the mech always possessed the option of bashing with its shield if it needed a power attack.
Overall, the mech possessed a good mix of offense and defense as long as it could dictate the terms of the engagement. Its entire rear portion would always remain vulnerable, though many other medium knights suffered from the same problem.
Only heavy knights featured all-around protection as they had the armor to spare.
Ves proceeded to bring his selection of parts together. After he fitted them into a single frame like a crude puzzle, he proceeded to refine his design by utilizing some of the simulations in the design speed.
That was when he finally found out about the immense amount of processing power hidden beneath the terminal. His eyes practically popped out of his eye sockets as a set of simulations that would have taken weeks to complete at home only took three seconds in the Apprentice Workshop.
What Ves found even more bizarre was that the terminal stated that his simulations only used up a fraction of the total amount of processing power assigned to the Apprentice Workshop. Ves could not even imagine the amount of calculations Master Olson routinely performed to require such an extravagant setup.
“This is a lot more processing power than I need.”
No matter how many resources Ves had at his disposal, they were borrowed goods. It would take a very long time until he earned the funds to upgrade his workshop to this level. For now, Ves stuck with his own method and proceeded to refine his design in his own way.
Different from Oleg, Ves already had an endpoint in mind, so he constantly tweaked the schematic in accordance with the desires of his images.
Each time he found an elegant solution that harmonized with the concept of his vision, his images bonded ever closer with the design. Ves felt as if the design and the images became more intertwined. Their existences even started to blur a bit as Ves brought his considerable amount of mental power to bear.
His highly intense state of mind even shook Oleg from his routine. The boy looked over at Ves and thought he saw a monster in human skin.
“Damn, have my eyes gone bad? I better take a break. I even missed dinnertime!”
As Oleg quietly left the workshop to fill his stomach and refresh his mind, Ves continued to work without any signs of fatigue. His highly enhanced body had surpassed the strength of his mind, which allowed Ves to skip the usual process of eating and sleeping for a brief period of days.
Against a prodigy like Oleg, Ves never even considered taking a long break. Every second of his forty-eight hour time limit was inordinately precious to him because it was the only way he could catch up to his fellow Apprentice Mech Designer.
“I’ll spend thirty-two hours on the design process and leave out sixteen hours to fabricate my design.”
Ves carved out quite a bit of time for the fabrication and assembly phase due to the complexity of the armor system. It possessed just the right mix of protection without taking up a lot of mass.
As a downside, the end product varied a lot, making it an unsuitable formula for mass production. It required a skilled mech designer or fabricator to manually produce each piece of plating one at a time.
“Let’s not get ahead of myself. First, I have to finish my design.”
He went back to work after refocusing his mind. The hours slowly passed until it became night. Leemar II used to adhere to a wildly different rotation cycle, but its extensive terraforming process stabilized it until it became identical to Old Earth.
Thus, the night came and went without notice, the workshop was situated underground. Even Oleg pulled an all-nighter, having taken some special medicine that allowed his mind to work at peak capacity for an extended amount of hours. He’d pay for it later, but until then he also made good use of his available time.
( Updated by BOXNOVEL )
Oleg must have wanted to get his hands on Lucky really bad for him to work so hard.
The boy finalized his design in the morning, and moved over to the 3D printer and fabricated his first new parts. Despite his handicaps, Oleg maintained a confident smile on his face as he adeptly churned out part after part.
In the meantime, Ves still hadn’t come close to finishing his design. While he made some progress with optimizing his schematic, he stumbled across a dilemma that forced him to a halt.