The Mech Touch Chapter 588
587 Proportional Strength
Overall, Ves faced a serious challenge of his own. The base design of the Pointed Sentinel truly couldn't catch up with Captain Orfan. Considering her personality, she wouldn't be able to hold herself back too much.
If she piloted the Pointed Sentinel after it received only the most essential repairs, then she would do much more damage to her own mech than her opponent could ever inflict.
"Captain Orfan is her mech's worst enemy."
It sounded like a ludicrous statement, but instances like this happened many times before. Countless stories proliferated on the galactic net on how skilled mech pilots met their own end after transferring from a high-quality mech to a low-quality mech.
This showcased a fundamental truth. There should never be too much disparity between the strength of a mech and the strength of the mech pilot. Why do expert pilots insist on piloting extremely expensive custom mechs?
Because they would otherwise break their own mechs!
The newly advanced Venerable Foster obviously struggled with this issue herself. Her old training mech which served her adequately started breaking down as soon as she broke through. Evoking forced resonance only put more pressure on the frame, as her mech's vastly increased power came with a subsequent tradeoff of accelerating the consumption of its lifespan.
It could be said that the quality of a mech determined the upper limit on the skill that mech pilots would be able to display. Those who possessed more ability would inevitably brush against the limits of what their mechs could perform. Therefore, it was vitally important to match the power of a mech with the upper limits of a mech pilot's skill.
Ves keenly understood this point, and so did many others. Why did Walter's Whalers used to buy second-hand trash mech worth 3 million bright credits or less? It was because the average skill of their mech pilots was absolutely abysmal.
Straight-up investing money in better mechs didn't necessarily improve the strength of the Whalers either. If Walter handed over mechs worth 30 million credits to his badly-trained mech pilots, the actual strength they could express may only be equivalent to the power of a mech worth 10 million credits or less.
"The strength of a mech pilot must be proportional to the strength of a mech!"
Of course, this statement wasn't absolute. There were many ways of strengthening a mech without overly burdening the mech pilot. The easiest way to cheat this rule was to strengthen a mech's armor. Many armor formulas shared the same attributes in terms of weight and density, but they differ dramatically in the amount of protection they offered. This was mainly a function of the quantity and quality of exotics they utilized.
This was also the most important point of difference between third-class mechs and second-class mechs and etc. Third-class mechs utilized a much lower standard of armor formulas than second-class mechs. The cost of second-class mechs may easily be tens to hundreds of times more than a third-class mech, but their armor may easily be five to ten times stronger.
Of course, the amplification of strength constantly bumped into the law of diminishing returns. A mech that was twice as expensive may only be ten or so percent stronger in reality.
This made it uneconomical for third-rate states to imitate the standard of mechs employed by the vastly richer second-rate states.
In any case, right now Ves had to work with a third-class low-end mech. In his eyes, every mech that costs less than 30 million credits was a budget mech, and the Pointed Sentinel fell squarely in this category.
The mech industry produced budget mechs en masse. Why not? The private market hungered for them. The skill, training and aptitude of the majority of the mech pilots in the private sector matched well with budget mechs. They would never be able to get their money's worth if they piloted an expensive premium mech such as the LMC's Bleakbeak or Crystal Lord.
Ves explicitly designed his original mech designs towards squad leaders, champions, mercenary commanders and the like. Possessing the ability of an advanced pilot was the basic qualification to pilot his mechs, because they both came with lots of strength and highly sophisticated control mechanisms that average pilots would never be able to use to their full potential.
This limited his customer base, but Ves had never intended to compete with budget mechs. Due to their low cost, the barrier for entry in that market was far too low. Too many mech designers plunged into that market already.
Though there were lots of risks involved with plunging straight into the premium segment, his ability and his high-quality work had pulled him through. The LMC stood on a firm foundation thanks to his good judgement and previous hard work.
His private sector experience provided him with lots of experience on what skilled advanced pilots demanded out of their mechs.
On the other hand, his experiences with several outfits such as Walter's Whalers and the Flagrant Vandals gave him a better perspective on what basic mech pilots asked out of their mechs.
The gap between basic pilots and advanced pilots was actually fairly wide. A mismatch in mechs and pilots between the two basic categories might prove disastrous.
In the case of Captain Orfan, her instinct-driven piloting style magnified that small possibility into certain catastrophe.
When Ves explained his train of thoughts to Chief Haine, she nodded in understanding. "Can't say I've bumped into this issue a lot, but I've seen some cases like that over the years. The thing is, you're asking us to upgrade a mech from something that is suitable for basic pilots into a machine that can handle the stress outputted by a peak advanced pilot. Even if you are a Journeyman Mech Designer in all but name, we've only got three days to work with before we have to send the Pointed Sentinel onto the arena grounds."
Her skepticism was justified. Even Ves didn't fully believe he could accomplish this ambitious goal in so little time.
"Do you believe in miracles?" Ves asked with a grin.
"There's no such thing as miracles."
"Well, I'll make you a believer in the next three days. There's nothing we can't do as long as we take a clever approach."
"You can't forget about your opponent either." The chief reminded Ves. "You witnessed Avid Serpent's mech in battle, right? That's precious information that you can use to implement countermeasures in your own mech."
"You're right. I was thinking so much about what I can do with the Pointed Sentinel that I haven't considered the other side."
By now, Ves had gathered a basic amount of information about his opponent. He not only knew what Gabriel Creta was capable of, but he also studied the basic background of the mech that Avid Serpent piloted.
Her axeman mech was a slightly more modern Vesian design called the Rogue Breaker. It used to come with a two-handed axe, but Avid Serpent's copy wielded a one-handed axe instead.
The Rogue Breaker happened to be designed by a Hafner mech designer, which strongly indicated that Avid Serpent came from the same territory. This also explained her personal affront to the Flagrant Vandals. Only Imodris and Hafner suffered a drastic drop in reputation due to their actions.
"The Rogue Breaker is an offensive mech." Ves explained to the chief. "It's overall parameters are actually a notch above the Pointed Sentinel. The only areas where our mech possesses an advantage is armor and endurance."
This was not good news to them. According to the Vandal mech pilots that witnessed her in battle, Avid Serpent was definitely an advanced pilot. It was questionable whether she was an officer-level mech pilot, but in terms of intuition and skills, she wouldn't be much worse than Captain Orfan.
The more important issue was that the Rogue Breaker possessed a higher tolerance for abuse from their own mech pilots. Its internal frame and mechanical structure was more robust, and its overall agility and flexibility enabled it to perform high-speed maneuvers with much less strain on the integrity of the mech.
Put simply, the Rogue Breaker accommodated advanced pilots much better than the Pointed Sentinel. Both of them were budget mechs, but their design principles took completely different directions.
"I don't know how Avid Serpent originally got her hands on the Rogue Breaker, but it certainly fits her well enough." Ves unabashedly praised his opponent. "Mr. Creta doesn't need to overhaul too many systems to draw out the potential of that axeman mech. As for us, we'll have to tear out at least half the Pointed Sentinel's frame before we can do anything more."
Chief Haine possessed a rich experience. When she heard his words, she looked suspiciously at him. "I get the feeling that you're about to do something ambitious."
"Heh, let's visit the inventory and junkyard before I explain."
Ves and the Chief exited the workshop and asked an arena manager to bring them to the places where they could draw their working materials. The manager led them through the huge but largely unadorned corridors until they entered a massive warehouse area.
"This is our main storage hall." The manager explained with pride. "We regularly stockpile the most common materials used by the mech models that we regularly see on the dueling field. As agreed, you are allowed to draw upon a limited quota of materials for your restoration work. The maximum quota is limited by the cost of materials. For example, you can draw upon tons of plain alloys, but only a handful of junk exotics."
"That's fair enough." Ves nodded. The underground arena didn't operate a charity. "I'm very satisfied with your stockpile."
He could draw upon a great variety of materials from the stockpile, including ones he previously used in his production models. His familiarity with these materials allowed him to apply them to his work without worrying about any complications.
"Do you wish to make use of your quota?"
"I'm not in a hurry. Show me the junkyard."
The three left the underground warehouse and walked a short distance before they arrived at a massive pit. Piles and piles of broken mechs, burned-out husks and separated parts rested in the pit. Heavy-duty cranes, lifters and other machinery enabled the arena organization to quickly dump and retrieve their wrecks.
"That's a lot of mech wrecks." Chief Haine widened her eyes. "All of this is untapped value. Why haven't you sent them to the recyclers?"
"Many of these remains hold unclear providence. Their ownership is rather troublesome." The manager shook his head with regret. "Many mech pilots that compete in our arena don't own the mechs they are piloting. Instead, they use a variety of means to get their hands on a battle machine. Sometimes they rent them from a rental company. Sometimes they ask a friend to borrow their personal mech. If there's a way, someone will doubtlessly make use of it. Ordinarily, there won't be much of an issue of the mech duelist wins, but a loss is more complex."
Those who lost likely had to face massive repair bills. If they didn't own the mech, then they had no reason to foot the bill. As for those who outright died in battle, it might be difficult to track down the actual owners of the mech.
All of these complications forced the organization to hold on to the mechs, whether they were intact or not. The arena stored the mechs in better condition elsewhere. Only the mechs and parts in the worst conditions would be relegated to the junk pile.
"Does the organization mind if we appropriate some of these wrecks and parts?" Ves asked. This was a very important question that directly determined the viability of his plan.
"Our bosses don't care." The manager shrugged. "You can do whatever you want with the junk as long as you're using it reasonably."
"So there's no quota?"
Ves looked at the piles of mechs placed haphazardly on top of each other as if they were mountains of money. All of these wrecks represented untapped wealth. The manager and Chief Haine looked as Ves as if he had gone crazy. What did he want to do with junk?