The Mech Touch Chapter 587
586 Pointed Sentinel
After Captain Orfan and Avid Serpent finished exchanging insults with each other, they both entered their assigned workshops along with their followers.
As soon as they entered, they commanded the massive mech-sized doors to shut. There was no reason to let their opponents gawk at their progress.
"Alright, what's up with you, Mr. Larkinson?" Captain Orfan asked. She hadn't missed his exchange with their rival mech designer.
"Well, this isn't going to be a walk in the park for me." Ves answered as he started searching the man's biography on the galactic net. "I don't know where Avid Serpent has found him, but she picked a good mech designer at the Apprentice-level. The only way she could top her choice was if she accepted the help of a direct disciple of a Master Mech Designer."
Such august figures shouldn't be mucking about in the Harkensen System. They had better things to do with their time than interact with the low-end mechs favored by mercenaries and pirates.
His brief search on Gabriel Creta turned up a lot of pages that confirmed his status. The man was a seasoned mech designer who ran a successful mech business that offered a complete line of mech models in its catalog.
In terms of business, Creta was far ahead of Ves. The man built up his company step-by-step, never ceasing to develop new mech models to round out his company's existing products.
"Is there anything I should know about this fellow?"
Ves thought about it. Though the man ran a larger business than him, the evaluation of his designs showed that his skills hadn't grown as fast. "Mr. Creta is older, but his Master hadn't taught him much. In that regard, we're on a similar level. His specialty is something that we have to be wary of. Though I'm not certain yet of his strengths, he will doubtlessly excel at working with melee mechs. In particular, he should be extremely good at maximizing the force application of his mechs."
Captain Orfan scratched her head. "Can you translate that into normal words?"
"It basically means his mechs hit really hard and their movements will be really powerful. Both the arms and legs are going to be really strong by the time he is done with them. Force application entails more than that, but you don't need to know that."
It would be a joke if a vaunted Master's specialty only resulted in stronger arms and legs. That was a massive oversimplification of what a supreme insight into force application could do for a mech designer.
Fortunately, Ves was fairly certain that Mr. Creta shouldn't have mastered the more abstruse uses of force application. That went well beyond the ability of an Apprentice Mech Designer. This was also why Ves didn't bother to elaborate the concept.
"So this is the mech we have to fix up?" Chief Haine asked as she stepped towards the spearman mech placed in the center of the workshop. "Man, it looks as if the Reinaldans fished it out of a junkyard."
"That's because you're right. This is a rejected piece of scrap that the arena operators planned to recycle at a later date."
Ves already studied the design of the spearman mech in detail. It was an old Reinaldan design called the INSF-8088-CS Pointed Sentinel.
Designed by Ophidian-Wheelax Industries, the mech was a typical low-cost design whose only purpose was to earn a quick buck. OWI was a small player in the Reinaldan mech market, and it had only reached the status of medium mech manufacturer after merging two smaller mech manufacturers.
The Pointed Sentinel was in fact a collaboration between the two joint lead designers of OWI. The pair somehow avoided most of the pitfalls of collaborate design work and managed to fuse both of their strengths into a single harmonious design. The Pointed Sentinel possessed little flaws and performed adequately at its price point of 40 million marks or around 20 million bright credits.
However, this description already hinted at its fatal flaw. While the design possessed various strengths and weaknesses, the former was very nuanced. Put in a different way, the design didn't excel in anything. It was a bog-standard spearman mech design with mediocre specs and nothing special to write home about.
Ves suspected that this may have been a result of two lead designers trying to push their own conflicting vision for the design. Of neither of them agreed to put one or the other in charge, both of them had to make constant compromises in order to finish the design.
The final result of the Pointed Sentinel showed that putting two mech designers in charge of the same design led to overly conservative design choices. It received a small amount of criticism that mentioned this shortcoming when the design first came out.
The only reason why the design hadn't received more criticism was because the Ophidian-Wheelax Industries was an obscure player in the mech market. Up to now, they never broke through their shackles and experienced any growth. This already showcased their overall level of competence.
To be honest, Ves didn't really put the Pointed Sentinel in his eyes. Compared to the mech designs he worked with before such as the Inheritor, Hellcat and Akkara designs, the Pointed Sentinel was a throwback to his earlier career. It lacked the complexity and optimization of more successful mech models.
Ves briefly explained all of this to Captain Orfan. "To be honest, the Pointed Sentinel can't keep up with your level of skill. You'll constantly be fighting for control and push your machine past its limits. Compared to the mech you're used to piloting, the Pointed Sentinel's speed, flexibility and reaction time are only half as good."
"So it's literally a piece of junk."
"It.. has its limitations." He conceded. "The only upside is that Avid Serpent's axeman mech falls into the same category as well. They are both meant to be affordable mechs that is supposed to deliver a good price-to-performance ratio. In that, they succeeded, in a sense. It's a decent mech to buy when you only have 40 million credits to spend when it first came out."
Both designs have depreciated over the years, though. Though they were both currentgen mechs, thousands of designs have popped up that directly competed against them in the same market segment.
A mech design that failed to make a splash and quickly fell into obscurity obviously lacked a redeeming quality. They were too generic and too mediocre. A decent price-to-performance ratio wasn't enough to stand out in the market. It needed an advantage that was memorable in order to stand the test of time.
From the start, Ves had always designed his production models with an eye towards long-term appeal. No mech was perfect. While it was true that mech designers inevitably had to make compromises with their design choices, that only applied to situations where their means couldn't catch up to their vision.
For example, wanting to design a mech clad with compressed armor, but lacking an alloy compressor. In such a situation, a mech designer could only take a step back and design a mech with cheaper armor.
What the lead designers of OWI had done was to make too many compromises with the design of the Pointed Sentinel. Defaulting to the safest design choices all the time led to a safe but timid design that never attempted to challenge the competition.
No wonder this design failed from the start. From what Ves had gathered from the galactic net, the Pointed Sentinel barely sold at full price. OWI had to issue regular discounts and conclude various unfavorable deals in order to prevent their mechs from collecting dust in their inventories.
"I've piloted many crappy mechs in my career." Captain Orfan said. "It's a long time ago since I last stepped into a cockpit of a mech as worthless as this. I'll have to shake off some of my rust. There's a simulator pod around here, right?"
"Ves jerked at the pod shoved to the side of the workshop. "It's over there. However, I don't suggest you grow too familiar with the Pointed Sentinel's level of performance. Even as we are going to repair your dueling mech, we'll also going to apply a whole host of upgrades."
"How big of an upgrade are we talking about?"
"It depends, captain. I'll have to look at the materials the arena organizers are willing to part with to be sure. However, my most conservative estimate is that I can likely boost your Pointed Sentinel's performance by fifteen percent."
Captain Orfan whistled at that figure. "Fifteen percent? That's a lot!"
"It's mainly because the Pointed Sentinel is an old and suboptimal design. Though I don't have enough time to remedy every issue, elevating its overall performance by fifteen percent while plugging most of the gaps shouldn't be too much of an issue."
"Good luck, then!"
The mech captain turned out to be an impatient client. Ever since she laid her eyes on the simulator, she never wavered her gaze. She quickly brushed Ves off before he could list a couple of possible upgrade priorities and hopped into the simulator pod.
Ves sighed. "Can you at least answer my questions?"
"Don't worry about it, Ves." Chief Haine stepped closer to him. "I'm familiar with Captain Orfan's preferences. I know what she wants in a mech."
"Thank you. Can you briefly tell me about her piloting style?"
Haine put a finger on her lips. "I don't know how to describe it. For someone like Captain Orfan, her piloting style is a little chaotic."
"Sometimes, I wonder whether she knows what she is doing. The captain isn't incapable foresight. She can plan and write out reports as well as any other mech captain. It's just that when she's on the battlefield, she directly throws out half of her burdens from her brains. Her intelligence basically halves when she fights."
Ves frowned at that. Even if Chief Haine exaggerated her depiction of the mech captain, his personal experiences with the captain didn't allow him to disregard this description entirely.
"How did she ever get promoted to a mech captain then?"
The chief technician shrugged. "That's the Flagrant Vandals for you. We can't be too picky on who we decide to promote. I think that in the past, the brass wanted to promote champions who could fight well to serve as anchors for the mech companies under our command. Captain Orfan may be lacking in some manners, but she's truly one of our better landbound mech pilot. That alone deserves some respect."
Ves inwardly rolled his eyes. "Respect. Yes. Anyway, you haven't described her piloting style in detail. Can you give me something to work with? I need concrete descriptions."
"The captain is capable of being patient when she's on the hunt. Once she finds an opponent her subordinates can't easily solve, she explodes into action. She loves to pressure her opponents with high-intensity combat. Very aggressive, but also very much in control despite lacking much forethought. She's the kind of mech pilot that relies on her instincts rather than her mind to see her through a battle."
"So she's a wild beast in battle, then." Ves palmed his face. "These kind of mech pilots are some of the worst to work with as a mech designer or a mech technician."
Ves had seen many of these kinds of mech pilots among the Vandals and Walter's Whalers. They usually didn't survive long enough to make it to the rank of captain, so it was very surprising for Rosa Orfan to succeed where many others have failed.
Mech pilots like Orfan exhibited strong battle instincts. This was an advantage in terms of high-speed combat where quick thinking could never catch up to pure instinct. However, the downside to relying on instincts was that the mech pilot never paid much attention to the status of their mechs. They outright ignored most of the information displayed in the control panels such as how much heat their mechs built up or how fast they depleted their energy cells.
Basically, they turned out to be some of the most abusive pilots to their own mechs.