Ves didn’t feel like spending additional credits on additional virtual component licenses. One of the problems of the DarkSilver design was that it allocated the majority of its space on enhancing its active stealth systems. It contained precious little space for any other systems.
Most of the variants he’d seen took the FFL-25 and added alternate loadouts. Instead of a piddly little knife, the other mech designers mostly provided their variants with limited-use weapons that delivered a large amount of damage in an instant such as bombs or acid containers.
To be frank, Ves considered employing the same means, but he held off because he wouldn’t add anything new to the game.
In addition, the solution seemed like a cheap cop-out that turned its back on the original intent of the DarkSilver line. The players who buy the variants mostly use them to sabotage the enemy base and supply depots instead of assassinating enemy mechs.
“Why are there so few variants that retain the DarkSilver’s original purpose?”
A handful of ambitious mech designers tried their hands at ‘fixing’ the FFL-25. Their attempts either enhanced the base model’s strength while sacrificing its stealth capability, or they preserved its stealth but made only marginal improvements in its strength.
Obviously, all of the mech designers who worked with the frame failed to find the silver bullet that circumvented the base model’s limited capacity. The oldest 4-star designs originally came out about a hundred years ago, which severely limited today’s designers from introducing modern innovations.
The most successful variants therefore eschewed the stock design and rebuilt it from the ground-up. They used the same components and the same materials but rearranged them into a completely different package that delivered substantially higher performance in some areas.
Not a lot of these redesigns existed as it required a lot of work for very little payoff, since assassin mechs never sold as much as mainstream mechs. However, this in turn gave Ves an opening for him to introduce something others hadn’t done before.
“It’s a lot like designing an original mech in a sense.”
Letting go of the boundaries of the base model freed Ves from its restrictions but also gave him room to stumble. Nevertheless, Ves didn’t shy away from the challenge.
First he had to set a vision for his variant. In his eyes, an assassin mech didn’t require protective armor. It avoided damage by virtue of its stealth systems and its speed. The base model mostly emphasized the former and paid only lip service to the latter.
“Let’s focus on speed and momentum.”
The conventional assassin mech sneaked up on their targets at an opportune moment and landed a lethal blow. Once they finished the deed, they popped their chaff and snuck away during the confusion.
“Just like the Old Soul in a sense.”
His 2-star sniper mech became known for its devastating ambushes and slippery escapes. This proved that the strategy worked, but Ves didn’t wish to retread the same old path.
Instead, he envisioned an assassin mech that used its cloak not to get into point-blank range, but to position itself for a short but devastating charge.
The beauty of this modus operandi was that Ves only had to ensure that his design possessed enough speed and acceleration. The arms and torso didn’t need any special attention. As long as they held up at the point of impact, his assassin mech should be fine.
In essence, his variant relied on its running start to build up enough momentum to punch through an unsuspecting mech’s armor. A weapon that enabled the mech to transfer its force into a single point worked best in these circumstances, so Ves immediately decided on pairing his design with a spear.
“The only problem is that the mech can’t maintain its stealth while running.”
Faster movement came with more vibrations and more disturbances in the air. It became vastly more difficult for its active stealth systems to suppress the deluge of signals.
Ves had no solution to this problem, but it shouldn’t matter too much. In his imagination, he envisioned his assassin mech using its cloak to sneak in close to its target, but not too close to get detected by its passive sensors. These usually became more effective the closer anyone tried to sneak up on their backs.
Instead, his assassin mech stayed just out of detection radius and readied itself for a charge. At the decisive moment, it rushed forward and closed the distance within seconds before ramming its spear into the vulnerable back of its target. After delivering its blow, the assassin mech ran away at full speed.
“It’s going to be risky for the mech to survive without any form of chaff.” He judged.
The escape should be the most difficult phase of the assassination process. While he could fit a small chaff module onto his variant, it would likely affect the effectiveness of its stealth. Thus, he decided to leave it out of the picture and focus solely on stealth and speed.
Now that he established a clear vision for his design, he began to construct a set of images for this Triple Division technique.
First, he set the base role as an idealized version of his assassin mech. Ves simply added in his vision for his design and imaged more scenarios on how it should be used.
The most important job for the base role image was to enhance the compatibility between the X-Factor and the actual mech. It didn’t need to be too strong or remarkable, but it couldn’t be inaccurate.
Ves in fact possessed average creativity, but it should be sufficient to paint a detailed enough picture. It helped that his assassin mech possessed a one-dimensional playstyle. It revolved solely around the mech’s ability to set up for a charge and escape when the deed was done. As long as it achieved perfection on this part, his design didn’t need any added frills.
Next, he moved on to the totem animal for his assassin mech. He wanted to pick out a predator that perfectly encapsulated his design’s ability to pounce at a target and get away quickly. Ves tried to come up with a standard Terran animal that fit its nature well.
“Let’s go for a cheetah.”
These large cats were favored predators that had often been genetically modified for various purposes. Their extremely fast sprinting velocity endeared them to various customers that liked to take advantage of this trait to hunt for difficult prey.
After browsing the galactic net, Ves found that the standard wild cheetahs exhibited different behavior in different situations. However, whenever it had to hunt alone, it employed a hunting strategy much like his assassin mech. Instead of stealth, it used various kinds of cover and concealment such as hills or tall grass to obscure its approach.
Ves liked the imagery the animal evoked, so he centered his totem animal around a solitary cheetah. With plenty of footage on the galactic net, Ves had no trouble constructing a vivid image of the cheetah at hunt.
Once he moved on to the final portion of the Triple Division technique, Ves had to be more thoughtful. The human myth portion of the technique required a lot of backstory in order to provide a lifelike human touch to the X-Factor.
He didn’t pull off anything too fancy this time. He made up an assassin called the Last Spear, as he used to be a guard for a fallen royal household. The fall of the king as well as his relatives has forced the Last Spear into the life of a fugitive without status.
The man fell into a bad crowd, and eventually made it to an assassin’s guild that taught him all the tricks of the trade. Ever since he completed his training, he began to wage a one-man reign of terror against his former enemies who took over his homeland.
The Last Spear stuck to the weapon of his choice. He wanted to let his targets recognize his spear as it plunged through their chests and their life faded away.
To him, it wasn’t about the money. It was personal. He swore fealty to the fallen royals and dedicated his life to defend their honor even in death.
Others might think him crazy, but the Last Spear found his true calling in life once he started harvesting the lives of those who profited from the conquest. He made it his solemn mission to track down every bastard that contributed to the fall of the royals and stab his spear into hearts without fail.
“Well, this is intense.” Ves shook his head.
His imagination got ahead of itself and conjured up a depressing image, one filled with both duty and pointless obsession. The Last Spear’s futile crusade against his enemies served no point except to torment his old enemies for a cause that no longer existed.
Well, the specifics of the backstory didn’t matter too much in comparison to his character’s skills and mindset. As long as he could capture some of that quintessential expertise in his image, his X-Factor became substantially more helpful.
This was especially important in this case as Ves wished to emphasize the rational side over the primal side of the X-Factor. A large emphasis on the latter in his previous designs should be the main reason why his designs gained a reputation for being recreational.
“Besides, assassin mechs are extremely difficult to pilot. My customers will need all the help they can get.”
Most mech pilots hadn’t received any special training on how to pilot an assassin mech. Some accomodation in this area should be very helpful with easing his model’s substantial learning curve.
With the three elements of his Triple Division technique set in place, Ves employed the full force of his mind and superimposed them into a single gestalt. With this hazy half-marged product in his mind, he got into a trance and started his redesign project.
First, he scrapped the base frame, stripping away everything except for its barest support structures. When he was left with nothing but an alloy skeleton, he tweaked some of its bones in order to enhance its mobility.
Then, he started adding in the organs. All of the essential components such as the engine and the power reactor filled up the internals. Different from standard mechs, the DarkSilver line employed a large suite of active ECM and stealth systems that all took up a lot of space. All of these gadgets demanded a lot of space.
Ves crammed in as much as he could while building up his mech’s internal architecture at the same. His experience with the Mark II turned him into a veteran in this kind of work, so defty skirted past the knots that popped up every once in a while.
Every savings he made in space or weight, he allocated it towards enhancing his mech’s mobility.
He paid relatively little attention to flexibility and agility and merely piled up on its ability to accelerate in a straight line. His assassin mech should be able to pounce upon its target with as little lead time as possible. Thus, acceleration mattered more than top speed.
“It still needs to be fairly fast in order to escape pursuit. It should at least run away far enough to re-engage its stealth.”
While his design slowly came into fruition, the Triple Division technique started to fluctuate within his mind. Just like with the Tyrant he designed in his duel with Oleg, the three images started to chafe against each other once they started to show more signs of life.
Different from last time, his images didn’t fundamentally conflict with each other. While Ves hadn’t done so on purpose, all three elements possessed very few contradictions.
Instead, they jostled around for dominance. None of his images wanted to share responsibilities. All of them wished to dominate the gestalt and turn the others into its slaves.
The conflict became increasingly more heated as Ves did nothing to discourage the fighting. In fact, he’d been aiming something of the sort from the start. This time, he wished to see what happened when the fighting had stopped.