Chapter 1954 Condescending Mech Design
Mechs didn't possess genders.
Hardly anyone even thought about it. Regardless of whether a mech pilot was male or female, they piloted a machine whether its dimensions resembled a male or female form.
Most mech designers defaulted to a male form when they designed a humanoid mech because that was the optimal standard in most cases.
Of course, some mechs designed to be slim occasionally looked feminine, but that was ordinarily not a major issue to male mech pilots.
These users cared a lot more about the condition and performance of their mechs rather than their gender.
Masculine mechs were generally beefier and tougher while feminine mechs were often slammer and faster.
This was not a hard rule, though. Plenty of mech designers developed female knight mechs and a lot of light mechs strictly adhered to the masculine form.
In short, hardly anyone in the mech industry cared about the gender of a mech.
Only a society obsessed with gender differences made this arbitrary distinction!
Ves knew that the Hexers didn't forbid their males from piloting mechs. That was simply too stupid considering how they would instantly half their manpower pool!
Otherwise, Venerable Brutus Wodin wouldn't be allowed to pilot the Star Dancer in the first place!
With a rival as formidable as the Friday Coalition, the Hexers would be fools to cripple their own fighting strength!
However, even if the Hexers allowed males to pilot mechs and serve in the Hex Army, they predominantly comprise of the lower ranks!
There was not a single 'boy' in the senior ranks of the Hex Army. It was impossible for boys to be promoted to the rank of mech captain or mech lieutenant. Both male and female Hexers agreed that putting any boy in a leadership position should never be allowed!
Therefore, males predominantly comprised the lower ranks of every mech force.
The discrimination didn't end there.
Aside from blocking the promotion opportunities of the lesser gender, the female Hexers also hogged all of the better mechs to themselves!
Gloriana tapped the terminal and projected two different mechs.
Here are two typical mechs of the Hex Army. She began. One is reserved for boys and the other is reserved for women.
There was no question which belonged to which. The mech for boys consisted of a large but fairly low-quality knight mech.
Even though it was sizable and incorporated a lot of advanced technology, it was hardly the best representation of the strength of the Hex Army.
It was basically a budget model in second-class terms. The knight mech was still a lot more formidable than any third-class equivalent, but it was very much a mech designed to be cheap and economic!
What grated Ves the most about this mech design was how it implicitly denigrated its intended users.
This male mech is probably designed by a female Hexer. Ves remarked.
There was no doubt in his tone.
Gloriana sighed. That's true. In the Hegemony, regardless if a mech is meant to be piloted by boys or women, a female mech designer should always be in charge of the design project! In the history of the Hegemony, I'm not sure if the Hegemony approved of any mechs designed by a boy! You have to know that even Brutus will never pilot an expert mech designed by a fellow male! It's simply unthinkable!
That shouldn't necessarily be an issue. Plenty of female mech designers were able to design excellent mechs for males.
However, with the mindset the Hexer females adopted, their condescension and disregard for boys was subtly evident in the design choices they made.
The knight mech design that Gloriana used as an example was designed to act as cannon fodder. It combined mediocre exotics and materials into an economically-efficient package that was meant to offer as much protection as possible.
This wasn't necessarily bad, but the defensive mech was significantly poorer in preserving the life of the mech pilot!
First, its armor layout and its internal architecture was meant to make the mech as durable as possible.
The degree of compartmentalization was very high.
Even if an enemy finally breached its armor and felled the mech, enough of the wreck should be able to survive to make it possible to restore it back to functionality after performing restoration work.
However, the degree of redundancy was rather low, and Ves noticed a distinct priority in protecting the power reactor and mech engine over the cockpit!
The meaning of this mech was very clear to Ves. Its designer valued the internal components of the mech design over its intended mech pilots!
This was a very unusual design priority!
In other mech markets, preserving the life of the mech pilot was one of the top three priorities of a mech.
No one wanted to pilot a death trap! Any mech that didn't prioritize the lives of its mech pilots would never be liked by its intended customers!
Only stupid customers purchased these kinds of mechs.
If boys actually had a say in the Hegemony, then a knight mech like this would never be allowed into the mech lineup of the Hex Army!
The female-shaped swordsman mech was obviously better. It was a premier mech that was at least eight times more expensive than the previous mech!
Despite its smaller dimensions, its high-quality armor system made it even more resilient than the knight mech!
Its lower mass and stronger locomotion made the swordsman mech a lot more mobile. If that wasn't enough, it came with integrated flight modules that allowed the mechs to hop rapidly across the battlefield or fly in the air or space with reasonable effectiveness.
Naturally, the feminine mech design also provided a lot of protection to the mech pilot. Its cockpit was clad with a hefty layer of armor. In the event of ejection, its formidable thrusters ensured that it would rapidly be able to flee to the rear intact!
All in all, the mindsets of the mech designers of the two mechs couldn't be more different.
Ves grimaced and crossed his arms. What is the point of showing me this insulting comparison?
His girlfriend shouldn't be blind to the differences either!
I know how.. bad it looks, but this is what Hexer mech pilots and mech designers are accustomed to. Male mechs are designed to fulfill supportive roles in the battlefield while female mechs are meant to achieve victory. Any mechs designed for Hexers have to fit this paradigm.
She elaborated on what she meant by displaying other male and female Hexer mech designs.
Male mech designs generally consisted of relatively lower-end 'support mechs'. That translated to defensive mechs and ranged mechs that were very necessary in any force makeup but rarely stole the show in a battle.
The knight mechs were meant to anchor the enemy while the ranged mechs were meant to provide ranged support.
Both mech types had the potential to be more than a generic presence on the battlefield.
His old Blackbeak and Crystal Lord designs were excellent examples.
The Blackbeak was an offensive knight rather than a defensive knight. While its defensive capabilities weren't as formidable, its mobility more than made up for it, allowing its mech pilot to take the fight to the enemy or perform various complicated maneuvers!
The Crystal Lord was not only fast, but also resilient. This allowed its mech pilot to deploy it closer to the enemy and enable it to duel opponents with the confidence that its armor would always hold up against opposing ranged mechs!
In both cases, Ves designed the mechs to empower the mech pilot. During his various Mastery experiences, Ves learned how much mech pilots valued agency.
Mech pilots always sought to do something, but they weren't always able to follow through because their mechs limited their options!
Ves had encountered plenty of mech models where their mech designers deliberately lowered the agency of the mech pilots. Frontline mechs were pretty much centered around this premise. His own Desolate Soldier model also adopted it to some degree.
However, the intentions of their mech designers were always benign. Ves designed the Desolate Soldier to be simple in order to accommodate a very wide variety of skill levels.
Those good intentions were absent in Hexer mech designs targeted to males. To Ves, it seemed that their female lead designers deliberately infantilized their target audience, expecting them to screw up if they piloted anything more powerful or complicated.
This meant that regardless of the skill level of male Hexer mech pilots, their performance on the battlefield wouldn't differ that much because the good ones weren't able to surpass the limitations of their mechs!
When Ves described his observations to Gloriana, she at least looked ashamed.
To be honest, I agree with you. She said. I used to design exclusively for women, but once I took part in the development of Brutus' Star Dancer, I learned that boys can be just as impressive as women on the battlefield. Women are better leaders, of course, but when it comes to pure fighting, boys inherently possess a greater propensity for violence.
That sounded both right and wrong! Ves was glad that she acknowledged that male mech pilots were just as good as female mech pilots, but what was that about 'propensity for violence'?!
Designing a Hexer mech is becoming even less and less attractive to me. Ves scowled. If I have to design a mech, I want to do it on my terms.
His girlfriend did her best to reassure him. I didn't show you these examples in order to force you to adhere to them. I'm aware your design style doesn't agree with our style of mech design. Calabast and I communicated that to DIVA, and the agency altered its demands as a response.
What does DIVA want?
I already told you, Ves. They want you to design a male mech that is oriented around support. The key is the glow of the mech. It should support the Hex Army and suppress the Fridayman combatants on the battlefield. The details are mostly up to us, but DIVA did attach some additional conditions to this commission.
She sent him a list of requirements and specifications. Overall, Ves didn't have to worry about licensing any components, because DIVA would be extending its propriety component licenses to Ves for the project.
That said, the budget of the project was fairly strict. Male mech designs were not allowed to be better than their female equivalents!
Perhaps the only upside to the project was that Ves and Gloriana were able to choose the mech type of their next project themselves. Whether they wanted to design a ranged mech, melee mech, spaceborn mech or landbound mech was fully up to them! The only caveat was that their choice should fully conform to a supportive function, so Ves wasn't allowed to pick a swift light skirmisher or a flashy lancer mech.
The restrictions grated on Ves.
Can I refuse? He asked.
Gloriana shook her head and smirked. Not this time. Remember that DIVA is almost about to rescue your captured relatives. The amount of effort they put in this operation is significant. They expect something in return, and designing a mech that can embolden Hexers and strike fear in the hearts of the Fridaymen is the best way to pay back your debt!
Obviously, his girlfriend was very eager to accept this commission! She knew how much potential his design philosophy possessed, and she wanted Ves to demonstrate his strength in order to earn even more appreciation from her fellow Hexers!
For his part, Ves may not like the Hexer approach to mech design, but it seemed this was the only acceptable way for a 'boy' like him to offer a mech to the Hexers.
Ves hadn't forgotten about his determination to take revenge on the Fridaymen. Killing his relatives and ruining their lives had to be paid back a thousand-fold!
Therefore, even if it was an insult to his dignity, Ves was more than willing to grit his teeth and accept DIVA's conditions if it meant he could exact his revenge!