Chapter 1919 4.6
If Ves had eyes, they would have widened until they reached the size of dinner plates.
A dwarf! Of all the humans the System could have chosen in the history of human civilization during the Age of Mechs, it chose a heavy gravity variant human!
He resisted the urge to bash his consciousness against the walls of Rion's mental walls!
Though the specific variant that House Kantis used to cultivate the dwarves Desolate X was not as extreme as the wildlings of Aeon Corona VII, Ves still couldn't get over the fact that his latest host was a dwarf!
Goddammit System! Can't you give me someone normal? Rion doesn't even pilot a real mech!
Though Ves hated the System's decision to put him in the mind of a dwarf, he resented his host's circumstances even more!
Rion Aaden was a dwarf!
On Desala X, that meant he was a miner!
As a slave in all-but-name, Rion never enjoyed proper schooling. He never attended a mech academy. He never received proper instruction from an experienced and seasoned mech instructor.
He hasn't even piloted a single mech in his entire life!
So what made him eligible to become the host of Ves' latest Mastery experience?
His simulator pod!
Ves disdained the poor excuse of a pod the resistance movement salvaged from somewhere and managed to make it functional again.
The simulator pod was at least useful in estimating the approximate time period of this Mastery experience.
So far, Ves hadn't been able to glean a lot of clues of his current setting. House Kantis strictly controlled the information supplied to the dwarves in order to make them as pliable as possible.
It was a lot easier to control a population of ignorant sheep than clever monkeys!
All Rion knew about his location was what the rebel dwarves had mentioned to him in passing.
Ves gleaned the basic circumstances of the Smiling Samual Star Sector and the Paramount Kingdom.
Both of them were in decline. For a time, it barely had anything going for it except for the modest deposits of slightly-valuable exotics.
Then these valuable exotics ran out. The humans living in states like the Paramount Kingdom destructively extracted as much value as possible to fuel their decadence and wasteful spending.
Now, there was hardly anything to smile about in this poor and forgotten star sector in the galactic rim.
There was one very relevant detail about Smiling Samuel though. When the rebels once showed Rion a galactic map in order to emphasize how small they were compared to the scale of human civilization, Ves discovered that this star sector was not that far from his own!
Certainly, Ves would have to travel through several star clusters in order to reach Smiling Samuel, but it was very much possible to reach it within a year on a very fast ship!
He mentally shook his head. This was no time to think about the possibility of meeting his Mastery hosts in the flesh.
His goal was to learn the essence of piloting a light skirmisher from the perspective of a mech pilot. He really didn't need anything more out of this than a thorough understanding of how a skilled mech pilot made the most out of piloting a light skirmisher.
As soon as Rion booted up the simulator pod, the dwarf didn't have that much to choose from aside from the preinstalled scenarios loaded into its databanks.
The pod didn't possess a connection to the galactic net.
In the time since Rion first trained with the pod, he first learned the ropes by going through the virtual training sessions.
Every simulator pod came loaded with a basic but foolproof virtual training program by default. This allowed potentates who weren't able to attend a mech academy for some reason or another to self-study their way into becoming a mech pilot!
Of course, that didn't mean that physical mech academies had lost their value. Ves knew that a true academy was countless times more effective in teaching mech cadets than a low-quality virtual training program!
Any mech pilot who emerged from a cheap virtual training program always became a bottom-feeder pirate or gang member!
This was because their poor and irregular piloting foundation was too worthless in the eyes of more respectable employers!
Urgh! What is this performance? Does Rion even know how to pilot a mech at all? He's making a complete mockery of light mechs!
The training scenario Rion selected first was a simple arena duel. The dwarf entered the virtual cockpit of a generic landbound light skirmisher armed with two knives.
His opponent? A heavy mech of all choices!
Theoretically, light mechs were supposed to counter heavy mechs. If the latter was not a striker mech, then the light mech could easily run rings around the lumbering machine and stab through the weak points that didn't require as much force to damage!
Though heavy mechs were often regarded as invulnerable shells that should never boast any weaknesses, Ves knew very well that heavy mechs often exhibited a lot of holes in their defense.
Every mech exhibited such vulnerabilities, especially on their rear!
A skilled mech pilot and a swift and agile light skirmisher were therefore capable of neutralizing a mech that was at least four times heavier and more expensive!
Therefore, it was very much worthwhile to dispatch light mechs to close in and disable these huge and sluggish mechs.
Even if more light mechs fell than heavy mechs, it was still a worthwhile sacrifice!
It was no surprise that the main rationale for light mechs was how cheap they were. Lighter and smaller than other mechs, they cost less expensive materials to build.
Naturally, that also made them vulnerable to damage. Unlike larger and bulker mechs, light mechs had to make do with the equivalent of a bedsheet as their armor.
Aside from resisting small-arms fire, they weren't very useful against resisting mech-grade ordnance at all! Just a few targeted hits from a normal ballistic rifle was enough to cripple their legs!
For this reason, light mechs depended entirely on the poor man's version of armor, namely evasion.
Dodging enemy attacks and evading various hazards was one of the most critical advantages of a light mech.
In fact, light mechs didn't possess any other advantages aside from their superior mobility!
It therefore became necessary for mech pilots to make the most out of the superior speed, acceleration, agility and range of motion of these fast and nimble war machines.
Ves expected Rion to perform decently. The Desala Resistance Movement provided Rion with a pod that only contained training scenarios that put him in the cockpit of a virtual light mech.
The rebels wanted Rion to become good at piloting a light skirmisher!
Yet when Ves saw the virtual light skirmisher drunkenly dragging itself towards the virtual heavy mech, his heart began to sink.
The light skirmisher wasn't accelerating as fast as it could! The mech model, which was a few generations out of date compared to the present, was capable of running so much faster. Ves didn't need to perform a detailed analysis on its mech model to realize that truth!
Wait a second! This simulation takes place in a heavy gravity environment!
It soon made sense why Rion's virtual mech performed such awful motions. The dwarf was trying to pilot a mech built for speed in an environment that was doing everything possible to slow everything down!
That said, from his experiences with the Vandals and Swordmaidens on Aeon Corona VII, he knew that there were much more efficient walking techniques to propel a light mech forward under these conditions!
As the brief practice duel against the heavy mech proceeded, Ves saw to his dismay that Rion wasn't only bad at walking.
The heavy mech he faced was a sturdy knight mech. It wielded a thick tower shield and a sword that looked hefty enough to tear Rion's mech in half!
Though the heavy knight exhibited the typical sluggishness inherent to its weight class, its AI mech pilot was clearly more adept than its opponent!
Combined with the reduced complexity of piloting a slower mech, the AI opponent skilfully kept pace with Rion's clumsy attempt at circling around the heavy mech!
Eventually, the AI mech pilot decided enough was enough. The knight mech's considerable bulk drove forth, causing its shield to slam in the path of the light skirmisher's circular route!
Ahhh! Damned tall folk! I won't let you get the better me! Taste my dwarven ferocity!
The light skirmisher awkwardly regained its balance. Ves surmised that Rion learned how to regain the balance of mech quickly not because he systematically trained for it, but because he encountered this situation too many times to count!
Though Rion's mech managed to recover quickly, it didn't possess the right angle to attack the heavy knight's weak points!
Only a solid shield and thick frontal armor was within reach. His light mech's knives would probably break sooner than the frontal armor cover of the knight mech!
With the heavy knight on the offensive, the light skirmisher could do nothing to evade and distance itself from the heavy knight.
Normally, a light skirmisher could easily disengage from an unfavorable brawl and generate some distance.
However, the skill disparity between Rion and the AI mech pilot was too vast! The latter piloted fairly close to the standard of a fresh graduate from an average mech academy.
Meanwhile, Rion piloted worse than what Ves expected out of a self-taught mech pilot trying to learn how to pilot at 4.6 g!
The gravity is the real problem! Ves concluded. If Rion went through a more standard training program first, he would have been able to form a proper foundation before branching out to heavy gravity operation!
Mechs were originally designed to work between 0 g and 1 g. It took extra effort and a lot of adaptation on the part of both the mech pilot and the mech to make them suitable for planets such as Desala x.
Yet because the rebel technicians foolishly modified the virtual training program to start off with 4.6 g right away, Rion's instruction started off flawed from the very onset!
Those idiots! Don't these rebels have a single person in their employ who worked or piloted with an actual mech for once? This is ridiculous! Any half-decent mech pilot would have been able to point out Rion's basic flaws!
Seeing Rion trying to disengage was a sight that would make any Larkinson mad!
Seeing Rion switching gears and trying to fight the heavy knight head-on was a catastrophe on multiple levels!
With his clumsy knife swings ineffectually deflected by the heavy knight's solid shield, Rion failed to pull his light skirmisher back in time to evade the painfully-telegraphed counterattack!
The heavy knight's solid sword sung across the lower torso of the light skirmisher with undaunted momentum!
With just a single blow, the mech managed to chop at least half of the waist portion of the light skirmisher apart!
Ahhh! Rion yelled in frustration inside his simulator pod. Almost! I was almost there! Victory will surely be mine next time!
Rion repeated the scenario five more times. Each of them resulted in swift defeat.
Ves became more and more frustrated at Rion's mule headed use of his practice time.
The stupid dwarf wasn't even aware of how bad he was! He had no idea how much better a real mech pilot performed in the same circumstances.
Proper mech pilots such as Joshua or the Larkinsons could easily pass this scenario within a couple of minutes! All they had to do was skillfully adapt to the heavy gravity while adopting modified walking techniques in order to outpace the rotation of the heavy knight.
Rion's futile practice session lasted for two hours. That was all the time he afforded himself before he needed to emerge from his secret chamber and sleep for just four hours.
House Kantis did not raise the dwarves to laze around. Their only purpose was to work as much as possible without causing them to expire too soon!