Chapter 1965 Skill vs Technology
Fencer mechs are capable of outdueling any melee mechs by themselves. She said. As you can imagine, my Heavensword Association is incredibly obsessed with swordsmanship. We have developed millions of styles, and many of them revolve around defeating a superior mech with an inferior mech. True glory isn't earned by bullying weaker opponents. It is only attainable to duelists if they can vanquish against a mech that is twice as expensive as theirs!
Angelique Harcourt conveyed her true feelings on the matter. Her design philosophy centered entirely on fencer mechs, with a particular focus on empowering finesse-based fighting styles.
Ves heard this kind of argument many times. In particular, swordsman mech specialists and mech designers who specialized in designing offensive melee mechs always liked to harp on the merits of centering mech designs around facilitating the skill expression of the mech pilot.
Personally, he possessed a more neutral stance on the matter. While he agreed that it was often best if the mech did not constrain the skill expression of the mech pilot, there were many instances where individual skill just didn't matter.
The hierarchy of mech pilots was shaped like a very broad pyramid. Only a handful of truly skilled mech pilots sat at the top. The majority consisted of a very fat portion of mediocre mech pilots and an even greater number comprised an extremely broad base!
What this effectively meant was that designing mechs around enabling skilled mech pilots to perform their fancy tracks was all well and good, but this market only consisted of 1 percent or less of the entire mech market!
Most general-purpose mechs focused much more on winning the battle through their base performance parameters and individual strengths imparted by their designs.
This was the orthodox approach to mech design. Even in a second-rate state like the Friday Coalition or the Hexadric Hegemony, plenty of mediocre mech pilots existed who despite all of their advanced education and augmentations were still barely good enough to pilot a basic mech!
Therefore, to most people in the mech community, they had to base their decisions around 'average' mech pilots who always needed help from their mechs in order to increase their effectiveness in battle!
As Ves faced the passionate mech designer from the Heavensword Association, he refrained from voicing his true opinion. From what she said so far, he would only get sucked in a pointless argument against someone who would never change her mind on a matter he held close to her heart!
He returned a strained smile at Harcourt. I understand. Fencer mechs are completely designed to outduel any enemy swordsman mech, spearman mech or other melee mech up front. Different from light skirmishers, they possess enough strength to deflect and redirect incoming blows. Considering how much less strength fencer mechs possess compared to medium mechs, that must be pretty difficult to pull off. One misstep is enough to result in defeat!
That's why my customers are all swordmasters. Miss Harcourt grinned in satisfaction. It's not easy to satisfy the needs of these exalted mech pilots. Admittedly, I have no chance of offering my products to the established swordmasters of my Association, but the younger ones are hungry to prove their skill!
Forgive my ignorance, miss. From the inflection of your words, I take it that swordmasters are special in your Association. Am I correct?
The female mech designer beamed with pride. Our Heavensword Association produces the best swordsman mech pilots of our star sector! In fact, some of our swordmasters aren't inferior to the best swordsman mech specialists of the Winged Serenade Star Sector! It takes lifelong learning and dedication to become a recognized swordmaster. Even before they start learning how to pilot any swordsman mech, they begin swinging their swords and practicing the fundamentals of their sword styles when they are old enough to hold a stick!
The woman blabbered on about the constant and extreme training that swordmasters had to endure in order to become a master of the sword!
Whether in person or in the cockpit of a mech, swordmasters were expected to deliver a brilliant display of swordsmanship!
The strongest and most skilled swordmaster of our time is always crowned as the Heavensword Saint. As the mech pilot who is the closest to wielding the legendary Heavensword, we believe he is worthy enough to lead our Association!
The more Ves heard about the Heavensword Association, the less he wanted to hear. The citizens of the Heavensword Association even called themselves sword servants, implying that everyone who wasn't a swordmaster solely existed to serve this warrior class!
Ves pretended to notice the time. Ah, I'd love to exchange my views on swordsman mechs and fencer mechs with you, but I have just begun to embark on a new design project. The deadline for it is rather tight, and the rest of my design team is awaiting the results of my selection.
Oh? May I ask what mech you are planning to design?
A spaceborn striker mech.
I see. That's a shame. Angelique's face fell. If you were designing a swordsman mech, I would have been able to offer some advice to you. Striker mechs are.. rather detestable mechs in my opinion. They require no skill at all to pilot! It is a travesty every time a no-skill mech is capable of defeating a proper swordsman mech!
That was the entire point. Striker mechs were explicitly designed to counter tricky and maneuverable melee mechs!
They offered a solution to mech forces that didn't possess too many high-skilled mech pilots. Without striker mechs, any formidable opponent would be able to wreak havoc in their midst!
While it sounded dishonorable to rely on technology to neutralize the advantages of skill, the history of war throughout human civilization always revolved around this dynamic.
In ancient human civilization, armies started slinging stones or shooting arrows at their opponents. Regardless of how a king or noble spent a significant amount of money and effort to train a skilled knight or man-at-arms who were deadly at close combat, a single arrow penetrating a weak point in their armor was enough to make all of that investment go to waste!
As millenia passed and humanity ascended to the stars, humanity still leaned heavily on technology to vanquish its opponents!
Relying on skill was important, but.. aside from prodigies, many mech pilots focused on deepening their skill because they didn't have enough faith in the battle prowess of their mechs.
If their machines weren't good enough because their employers were too cheap or refused to assign them something better, than honing their skills was the only way for these mech pilots to increase their chances of success in battle!
Maybe I'll design a swordsman mech in the future. It's on my to-do list. Ves casually remarked.
Please consider getting in touch with me if you do. Whether you just want some advice from someone who has designed mechs that excel in bringing out the strengths of different sword styles, or are in need of a very knowledgeable collaborator, I'm open to any offer!
Ves smiled. I appreciate your generous offer. For the time being, I have other matters to attend to. Goodbye.
Goodbye, Mr. Larkinson!
He pulled his digitized mind out of the MTA's virtual portal shortly afterwards.
Returning his perspective to his real body momentarily disoriented him. The transition happened suddenly without any adjustment time. However, he soon familiarized himself with his own eyes and ears again.
Gloriana was watching him carefully from his side. How was your first virtual immersion??
It's disturbing how closely it mimics reality yet exhibits subtle signs of imperfection that constantly reminds me that it's just a false reality.
The MTA probably has technology that can present an even more realistic experience. She claimed. Back when I was residing at Centerpoint, I heard rumors that the MTA has long mastered how to make virtual immersion so realistic that no one is able to distinguish between true and false reality! They mostly keep it to themselves in order to give their own personnel an edge in training and prevent trillions of average people from losing touch with reality!
That sounded like something the MTA would do. Human civilization may be ascendant in the Milky Way Galaxy and beyond, but their race could easily lose its dominant position if its people grew complacent!
Getting lost in entertainment and ignoring actual concerns in life for the endless pleasures of virtual reality was a common fear to many leaders.
Humans needed to maintain their edge. Growing soft led to weakness. Weakness led to disaster! No matter what, humans needed to remember that life was hard, but necessary!
This reminds me that I still need to visit the Rim Exchange. Ves suddenly said. I refrained from visiting its virtual portal because I still had to complete the Bright Warrior design and didn't want to become distracted, but now that I'm not as busy, perhaps I can see what this exclusive club is all about.
Go ahead, Ves. I'm curious to see what the Rim Exchange has to offer as well. It's a shame I didn't receive an invitation.
She didn't show much remorse, though. Hexers generally preferred to keep a distance from the MTA and its organizations because they had too many males in power.
I'll be on the lookout for any easy opportunities to earn a lot of merits, though I don't expect to find anything promising. MTA merits shouldn't be so easy to come by, considering they are the primary necessities to extend our lives.
Before you dive in again, please tell me which flamethrower model you've selected.
He briefly did so, and she accepted his choice, though with obvious reluctance.
Our budget will strain even further with this choice, Ves. We can invest as much in the armor system of our striker mech design.
Offense is more important than defense when it comes to striker mechs. If I want a defensive mech, I would have designed a mech that is specialized in taking a beating!
She couldn't argue with that simple logic, though she didn't feel so good. Second-class striker mechs were much better protected in proportion to all of its other features, but that was an entirely different game.
Once Ves finished his discussion with his girlfriend, he settled on his seat and prepared to enter another virtual immersion. He browsed the interface of his comm until he came across the exclusive virtual entrance of the marketplace of the Rim Guardian Fraternity!
Mech designers and other mech insiders all across the entire galactic rim dreamt of becoming an associate of the Rim Guardians!
Chief among their reasons was obtaining access to their exclusive Rim Exchange. Though it offered many of the same goods and services of the MTA, associates received varying levels of preferential treatment that allowed them to get more out of their precious merits!
Now, Ves would be entering it for the very first time. Though he wasn't sure what to expect, he hoped to find something that would make it easier to fulfill his ambition to become a galactic pioneer!
As his partially-digitized mind entered the Rim Exchange's virtual portal, his senses blanked out once again before depositing him at a brilliant star escape!
Stars surrounded him from every direction as his disembodied eyes floated in the middle of interstellar space!
A symbol of the Rim Guardians slowly lit up in front of his view. A starry chakram with the silhouette of a man at the side looking upwards with hope conveyed a lot of symbolism.
Once it disappeared, an android similar to Delta-Gina appeared into view.
[Welcome to the Rim Exchange, Mr. Larkinson.] The butler-like android with a metallic moustache greeted. [I am Gamma-Gamma-Hogan, your virtual concierge at our illustrious Exchange. Whether you visit our virtual portal or one of our physical branches, I shall always be present to accompany you through our Exchange and assist you in your tasks. You may dismiss me whenever you wish if you do not desire my company.]
If Ves still possessed a body, he would have twitched his mouth. It figured that the Rim Guardians wouldn't do things the normal way.
Your name is kind of a mouthful. Can I call you Hogan?
[You have full prerogative to call me anything you wish.]
A thought came to mind. I'm curious. What are the most common names that virtual concierges like you are called?
[The top names are 'Bot', 'Stupid Bot', 'Dummy', '#$\u0026#[email protected]', '#\[email protected][email protected]#', '@#\u0026$\u0026', 'Servant', 'AI' and '#$*@#$'. Would you like to refer to me in one of these popular names instead?]
No thanks. Hogan will do.