The Mech Touch Chapter 682
681 Thought Exercise
"Forget about your duties and obligations for a moment. Just assume that the Swordmaidens are fine without you. Let's say that you are retiring from this piracy business in order to start your own mech business. What will your first design look like?"
The question threw Ketis off a loop. "I'd never abandon the Swordmaidens like that!"
"This is a hypothetical. A what-if situation. A thought exercise." When Ves noticed that Ketis didn't get the point, he took up a firmer tone. "Just play along damnit!"
"I.. I can't imagine such a future. I don't know what to do by myself."
"As a fully-qualified mech designer, there is always one thing you can do. You can start a mech business. That's the hypothetical we are playing with today. For simplicity's sake, let's assume you bought a fake passport and acquired a new identity in civilized space. You've become a citizen of the Reinald Republic and set up shop at Harkensen III amidst all the other mech workshops. As a hopeful new entrepreneur, you've got to show the mech industry that you're capable of standing on your own two feet. You spent your first years stabilizing your business by designing a couple of variants. They're successful enough to pay the bills, but you need more if you want to go further. Only an original design will do. What will it look like?"
The narration helped her get into the right mindset. She visualized such an imaginary dream, despite lacking sufficient understanding about how to conduct business in civilized space. She wasn't supposed to chop her sword at someone if they pissed her off, she recalled.
"I'd definitely design a swordsman mech. It's what I do. It's what I know."
"Is it also what you love?" Ves interjected.
She paused. "Yeah. I kind of do. It's the first mech type that I've really worked with, and it's the one I'm mostly in sync with as well. As a sword practitioner myself, I feel like I understand just how it's supposed to fit together. All the nuances about the layout, how the artificial musculature has to be like this or that to maximize the strength behind a sword swing, why you should pay a lot of attention on the feet so that the mech has stable footing, all of that knowledge shows that I know how to design a swordsman mech better than a bunch of nerds like you who never swung a real sword in their hands in their entire life!"
Ves briefly clapped. "That's a good argument! I'm fully convinced that you're able to design a great swordsman mech! Is it your mission to show so-called nerds like me who have never fought a real battle for their lives that you can do the swordsman mech type justice?"
"I.. I don't know. I never really thought about it. All I know is that I feel nothing about the other mech types I've worked with. Tinkering with light skirmishers or medium knights is barely tolerable to me. They're kind of like swordsman mechs who have fallen into the wrong path. It's the ranged mechs that really bother me. I can't design a rifleman mech. I simply can't. I hate them. I hate their entire concept."
That sounded curious to Ves. "Why do you hate the concept of ranged mechs? A rifleman mech is an indispensable part of the mech battlefield, whether it takes place on land, in the air or in space. I've seen you wield a pistol back on Mancroft Station, so I don't see why you object to mechs doing the same."
"That was a necessity. I only carry around my pistol because the Swordmaidens have learned too many times that there are plenty of cowards out there who will want to snipe us off at a distance."
"Don't you think the same applies to your swordsman mechs? Their lack of ranged armament makes them vulnerable to outfits that field mechs that excel at range. For example, the Caged that we let slip away for the second time. They'll be back for a third round, mark my words, and we better prepare our mech roster to counter their hit-and-run tactics."
"I just don't like working with mechs armed with guns, alright?!" Ketis shouted in an exasperated tone. "I'm not as wordy as you, teacher. I can't explain the way i feel the way I do."
"Let's go back to swordsman mechs then." Ves quickly shifted back to the main topic. "I've noticed you're very enthusiastic about them. This could be your calling, Ketis. Your aptitude along with your familiarity with both swordsman mechs and the people who tend to specialize in piloting them can be a real boon in your career. You possess advantages in this aspect that few can surpass. Does the notion of running your own business around swordsman mech sound like an attractive prospect to you?"
To Ves, the life experiences of Ketis might have been one-dimensional and heavily slanted towards swordsmanship and everything connected to it, but every cloud possessed a silver lining.
Her eccentricity in her heavy favoritism regarding swordsman mechs should be something that Ves should foster at any cost. There were worse pursuits a mech designer could specialize in, and he couldn't see any other way Ketis would want to put her heart and soul into for the rest of her career.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click for visiting.
She finally gathered her thoughts into words. "I think I'd very much like that. It's still something I don't see happening, though. I love the Swordmaidens too much to abandon them. I've grown up with them for most of my life and I want to pay back everything that they've given me. From my sisters, I've learned how to become strong. From Mayra, I've learned how to design mechs. From the Swordmaidens, I've learned how to gain the respect I thought I had lost."
Ves understood that hypotheticals like this worked poorly on Ketis. She couldn't keep her mind divorced from the Swordmaidens. It was as if she feared she would be struck by a cosmic beam if she stopped thinking about her sisters for more than a dozen seconds!
Still, the brief mental exercise exposed her inner thoughts and feelings regarding her favorite type of mechs. Ves could work with what he uncovered.
"If you can't imagine a life without the Swordmaidens, then let's forget about the previous fantasy. Let's imagine you are with your sisters for your entire life and that it's five or so years in the future. Say that Mayra is getting on in her age and she contracted some kind of frontier injury or disease that has left her sick and infirm. She's in no shape to design a mech anymore! The last thing she commands you to do is to design a new swordsman mech that will replace the main mechs of the Swordmaidens. What will you design?"
Ketis had to wrap her head around the drastic changes in narrative. She furrowed her brows again and thought hard and deep. "I really hate it if something awful happens to Mayra. I hate you for putting that image in my mind."
"Don't use your accusations as an attempt to divert from this exercise. Something like this might very well happen in the distant future, so it's best you get your act together now rather than later. Put your mind back in that hypothetical future. Mayra has tasked you with designing a new mech, if only to prove that the Swordmaidens haven't lost their advantages in fielding their own internally developed designs. What is the mech you are going to design?"
"Does it have to be a spaceborn or landbound mech?"
"Let's limit this to landbound swordsman mechs for now. I've seen the Misty Slasher, and it's much more complex than you think. At the very least, designing something comparable to your internally developed spaceborn swordsman mech design is out of the cards for you. I think a simple landbound swordsman mech is more relatable to your own training and experiences."
"If that's the case, then I'd design the best swordsman mech for the Swordmaidens as possible!"
"I'd be careful with using words like 'best'. Take your budget and your material limitations into account."
"Uh, right." She shook her head. "Okay, I'll design a itty bitty better landbound swordsman mech then. It's going to be shaped like a woman and have a really huge sword and it's gonna be plated in the strongest armor and it has legs for days that can run so fast it can catch up to light mechs in a sprint and it will have Mayra's miniboosters attached to its frame that can give it an even greater boost and—"
Ves held out his palm while nursing his forehead. "Take a few breaths and think of what you just said. What did you just describe?"
"My ideal swordsman mech."
Ves slammed his palm against his desk. "No you idiot! I just told you to think, not to blurt out the first thing that comes from your mind. I'll give you a full minute to reflect on what you just listed out. I hope to hear something more sophisticated than what a five-year old kid might say."
The minute stretched on while an awkward silence fell over the office. Ves glanced at Ketis scrunching her nose while she worked her muscle-brained mind why Ves called her an idiot. Sometimes, he couldn't believe that Ketis was actually qualified to call herself a Novice Mech Designer.
"Okay. That's it. A minute has passed. What do you have to say for yourself?"
She looked a little contrite. "I described a mech that can't possibly exist. There's no way I can design a mech that's fast, strong, tough and is jacked up with boosters and still be within the means of the Swordmaidens to produce."
"I'm glad that common sense has returned to you. I know you haven't often used it, and that's fine. I've seen many mech designers who have forgotten about their common sense. But it's best to remind yourself to go stay grounded every once in a while. Now, a basic rule when designing mechs is that you can't let your fantasies run wild. You have to work with the resources within your means."
Ves elaborated about this point in a basic lecture. Because Ketis had never been fully responsible to manage a business, workshop of mech department of her own, she had no concept of working under these kinds of limitations. The worst enemies of a mech designer in the galactic rim was their limited budget! When they had a finite amount of money at their disposal, they could only obtain so much licenses or acquire so much production facilities.
One difference popped up between mech designers working under the auspices of the MTA and in the frontier. "Say, Ketis, how do you mech designers in the frontier handle licensing issues? Do you pay any licensing fees at all when you make use of someone else's mech or component designs?"
She looked at him as if he spoke an alien language. "Are you kidding? Who the hell wastes K-coins on licenses. They're just a stupid way you civilized people invented to make some extra money. I don't know a single mech designer in the frontier who has ever paid a fee on designs. Whenever we need one, we just crib one from each other or from the galactic net. If it's there, just take it and make use of it. Haha, paying for licensing. That's a funny story."
He couldn't expect anything better out of pirates. They thumbed their noses at the MTA, of course they would ignore the licensing system that had helped many mech designers in civilized space from profiting off their innovations. It was obvious that Ketis did not respect the sanctity of intellectual property as much as Ves or any other mech designer who grew up in civilized space.
"I see I need to fill up your knowledge gaps before we can proceed with more profound lessons." He said. He waved his hands, transferring some files to her comm. "Let's adjourn the lesson for today. Read these textbooks by tomorrow. I expect you to be able to answer my questions when I quiz on them tomorrow afternoon."
Ketis' eyes widened at her homework. "This is three whole textbooks! How am I going to read through all of them before tomorrow!?"
"That's the nature of studying. Don't whine. None of the books are about science. They're actually describing the particulars of running a mech business. A lot of the contents of the books are taken up by elaborate explanations and examples of fundamental business concepts. Just take a look and you'll see."