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Chapter 1957 Deterrence

The Mech Touch
     Chapter 1957 Deterrence

    While Gloriana started to explore how they could give their striker mech design a performance edge, Ves began to explore its mech concept.

    He wanted to develop a compelling vision for his mech. Its design and features had to harmonize with each other in a way that made sense.

    In order to come up with a good idea, Ves began to doodle with the appearance of the mech.

    Approaching the striker mech from an artistic direction rather than a technical direction was a lot more comfortable to him. His stress noticeably decreased as Ves temporarily put aside the headache-inducing capacity issues.

    As a mech designed to fight against a horde of enemy mechs, the mech needed to project a very strong image.

    If the enemy mech pilots believed his striker mech was a pushover, then they were much more likely to brave the flames!

    This was not an outcome that Ves wanted to see.

    After examining the draft design from every direction, he decided to gain some inspiration from the battle footage taken from the Battle of Kesseling VIII.

    He loaded up the recordings and silently observed the brief but very intense battle in space from multiple angles.

    He witnessed many heroic sights.

    The handful of Deliverers put heavy pressure on the mercenary commanders.

    Imon Ingvar recklessly dove into the enemy ranks.

    Jannzi Larkinson's Shield of Samar came to his rescue.

    The Solar Warriors held off the powerful second-class CRC mechs.

    The Nova Warriors whittle away the mercenary mechs.

    The Quint single-handedly destroyed several CRC mechs in its lancer mech configuration!

    All in all, his Bright Warrior mechs did a marvelous job in foiling the CRC's attempt to cut off the Larkinson Clan's escape route.

    Naturally, Ves also saw how many Avatar and Sentinel mechs succumbed to the flood of enemies.

    If they weren't being taken out by a single attack from a CRC mech, they faltered as soon as they were being mobbed by several mercenary mechs!

    It didn't matter if the enemy machines were cheaper and not as well-maintained. Aside from the Bright Warriors and the Shield of Samar, every other mech in the Avatar and Sentinel spaceborn contingent were unable to contend against this aggression!

    If the Bright Warriors hadn't whittled down the CRC mechs and leveraged their superior defensive powers to sweep away the mercenaries, the battle in space might have been lost!

    Could the battle have turned out better if his mech forces fielded more striker mechs?

    Ves rubbed his smooth-shaven chin. He could see Gloriana's point. While the CRC mechs wouldn't be deterred at all, the mercenary mechs would have never made so many aggressive and unbridled attack passes if they had to brave a lot of flames!

    Some of the mercenary corps that took part in the attack were obviously not as diligent in servicing their mechs than other outfits.

    He paused the footage and zoomed in on a number of enemy mechs. On certain mechs, he spotted numerous signs of botched repairs, lack of maintenance and a lot of cut corners.

    What was particularly egregious was that the armor coverage of some of the mechs was not complete!

    Against a fully-armored target, flamethrowers weren't particularly deadly. The flames mostly melted the surface layers while increasing the heat level of the target.

    However, the damage was countless times worse if the armor of the target contained vulnerabilities!

    Striker mechs were able to inflict a lot of damage to the internals of a mech! The extreme application of heat and energy ruined lots of delicate components and machinery at a time!

    A striker mech was a damaged mech's worst nightmare!

    We could have used more striker mechs. Ves concluded.

    A lot more Avatar and Sentinel mechs would have still been up if his mech forces possessed an effective solution against massed attacks.

    While a striker mech was only effective against melee mechs, freeing up pressure up close was vital in allowing friendly ranged mechs to fire at their targets without getting chased!

    He shut down the projector. Despite the large amount of mechs, the battle didn't last very long. Ves had already seen what he needed to see, and he could always recall footage because he uploaded the files in his Archimedes Rubal implant.

    His implant was supercharging his thinking speed and efficiency. Even if he didn't project the draft design, he could precisely envision it with his partially-digitized mind.

    In fact, if they wanted to, Ves and Gloriana were fully capable of designing their mech in their minds!

    He was a bit uncomfortable with this method, though. Visualizing his mech with his eyes was just a bit more real and substantial to him. It was hard to take a mech design seriously if it only existed in his mind.

    Besides, Ves also needed to cooperate and coordinate with other mech designers. While it was no problem for him to exchange data with Gloriana, they also had to share their work with two design teams.

    Hmm.. the Bright Warriors failed to scare the mercenaries until my mechs finally crushed the CRC mechs.

    The bridge mechs weren't as overwhelming as second-class mechs, but they were definitely superior to third-class mechs.

    Sadly, his opponents didn't always possess a good discernment for mechs. If his enemies didn't study his mech lineup beforehand, then they could easily mistake the Bright Warriors as bog-stand third-class mechs!

    Being underestimated was usually an advantage. However, the lack of deterrence value also meant that his forces would probably get into fights that could have been avoided if his enemies properly recognized their strength.

    What Ves found notable about the mercenaries was that their morale at the start was very high. Likely buoyed by the rich rewards promised by the CRC, the mercenaries fought as if they would be set for life as long as they did their part!

    The greedier the mercenaries, the harder they fought!

    And mercenaries are always greedy for money!

    Money translated into luxury. Money could be spent on training or augmentations. Money allowed mech pilots to buy their own personally-owned mechs, thereby freeing them from depending on their employers!

    In short, as long as someone waved enough money in front of their faces, the mercenaries were more than willing to disregard a portion of their fear of death and take some risks!

    His thoughts grew more focused towards manipulating morale.

    This happened to be an area his design philosophy excelled in. He learned the importance of maintaining the confidence of his own men from watching how Major Verle motivated the hearts of the Flagrant Vandals.

    He incorporated these lessons in his own design approach. His Desolate Soldiers and his Bright Warriors were already doing a great job in boosting the confidence of his mech pilots!

    While their glows were also capable of pressuring enemy mech pilots, they didn't particularly excel in this aspect.

    Ves didn't prioritize the deterrence of his previous mech designs. It had never been a major problem up until now.

    What tools do I have to enhance the deterrence value of my striker mech?

    He turned his gaze back towards the projected draft design and tried to come up ways to spice up its functional appearance.

    Ves came up with two immediate answers.

    First, he could shape the appearance of the mech in order to induce fear. The more intimidating it looked, the more its opponents faltered in their charge!

    Second, he could compliment the mech's fearsome appearance with an equally-fearsome glow.

    To generate such a glow, Ves had to empower his striker mech design with a suitable design spirit.

    Should I reuse one of my existing ones or create a new one?

    Right now, Ves wasn't in a good position to harvest one from an exobeast.

    His fleet was constantly fleeing in the direction of Hegemony-aligned space, and all of the star systems they passed through were completely ravaged by the sandmen.

    His second option was to create a new spiritual product. However, that was a fairly substantial effort and expended resources that Ves wanted to use as sparingly as possible.

    His most preferred method was to see if he could reuse an existing design spirit!

    After a bit of thought, two answers came in mind.

    The milder option was to make use of Zeigra, the deceased Crown Cat of Felixia. Despite Zeigra's irreconcilable hatred against Ves, that didn't stop him from using the feline spirit to empower the Devil Tiger and the Prideful Soldier designs.

    The more extreme option was to draw upon Nyxie, the ancient spiritual entity held captive in the Ancient Sarcophagus.

    While Ves had already made use of several spiritual fragments harvested from the tyrannical spirit, he usually processed and sanitized them until they turned into strong and pliable spiritual ingredients.

    What if Ves held back on removing their negative traits? What if he preserved much of what made Nyxie so unsettlingly scary and intimidating?

    The Ancient Sarcophagus was safely stowed aboard the Scarlet Rose along with the rest of the contents of his vault, so he wasn't able to visit it immediately.

    Still, in his memory, the Ancient Sarcophagus once exerted a very subtle but unavoidable pressure on Ves until it finally came to head!

    Nyxie could also drive anyone in the vicinity to madness as long as they were trapped in the same chamber as the red coffin! Ves had already tested it out by using the cowardly William Urbesh as a test subject.

    In short, incorporating Nyxie or some of the ancient alien's aspects was a¬†good way to pump up the fear factor of his mech!

    Yet.. Ves began to frown.

    It was far too dangerous to make use of Nyxie in this fashion. Just like Cassandra Breyer, Nyxie was a hostile existence who possessed overwhelming strength but were constrained by their respective cages!

    By allowing Nyxie to extend his influence outside his cage was incredibly dangerous. Ves had already suffered several times from Cassandra Breyer's interference.

    Adding another threat in the form of Nyxie would probably drive him crazy!

    Ves always had to be careful in deciding which entities he chose to become his design spirits.

    Every design spirit earned spiritual feedback. They drew from the spiritual strength of every mech pilot and increased their strength as a result.

    This interaction wasn't very apparent if only a couple of mechs had been produced.

    Yet Ves didn't intend to design a custom mech or a low-production commission mech!

    He wanted to design a striker mech that had the potential to dominate the market for its product category! His ambition was to match and surpass the success he enjoyed when he published his Desolate Soldier design!

    If Ves was able to achieve this ambition, then he might be able to sell millions of copies of his striker mech throughout the Komodo Star Sector and possibly other star sectors!

    With millions of mech pilots providing active feedback to Nyxie, Ves feared that he would not be able to stop him from gaining enough strength to break out of his prison!

    Nyxie is not a good choice!

    His emotions became a lot more stable when he turned his attention to Zeigra.

    While the Crown Cat was just as hostile as Nyxie, he wasn't nearly as strong or sophisticated.

    Nyxie likely used to be an alien tyrant and leader who dominated an empire in ancient times.

    Zeigra was just a genetically-engineered cat who ruled an artificial jungle until Lady Miralix of House Laterna successfully hunted it down in a fair and officially-recognized Crown Hunt.

    There was no comparison. While Zeigra was clearly the weaker entity, Ves was fully confident he could keep it under control even if his striker mech became popular.

    Unlike Nyxie who possesses an intelligent mentality, Zeigra is as stupid as a cat. He's only capable of displaying primal aggression and instinctual behavior.

    Meow!

    Lucky looked at Ves in anger! What did he say about cats?!

    Ves looked down at his gem cat. I'm not wrong! I doubt you're smarter than a Crown Cat.

    Meow!