Chapter 1990 Low Expectations
When Ves met up with Gloriana, he showed off his latest efforts. He handed over another mech figurine that served as a mockup of his alternative concept for their striker mech.
Gloriana looked nonplussed. Is this what you were talking about when you stated you wanted to think outside the box? You could have at least resorted to a bestial shape that works better in space! Why not a dragon mech?
It doesn't matter. Ves shrugged. A dragon is merely a mech with a large flight system and a bit more arcing in its body shape. I decided upon a tiger shape because it's already familiar territory to me. It also helps that it fully conforms with its intended design spirit. I think Zeigra always works best when he's matched with a tiger mech design.
Though his arguments made sense, Gloriana knew that there were a lot more implications that her boyfriend hadn't mentioned!
There's not much point to quadruped mechs in space. There is hardly any solid soil for the legs to grip in. This is all wasted resources.
I don't think so. Ves replied. The legs make up for the lack of swords to the mech. When any humanoid mech comes close, they'll have to fend off the mech equivalent of a tiger! As long as the tiger mech is piloted by someone competent, my striker mech can be quite a beast in close combat!
You're talking about turning our striker mech into a hybrid mech!
Not exactly… Ves shook his head. It's not a powerhouse in melee combat. Compared to conventional tiger mechs, most of the capacity of the mech is devoted to empowering its flamethrower mounts. With the way I've configured this draft, it features the same amount of internal volume of a humanoid mech, but actually offers a lot more space for external mounts. Did you notice that my alternative concept has a decent amount of room on its back?
She turned her gaze back to the mech figurine in her hand and touched its back.With humanoid mechs, the flight system occupies at least fifty to eighty percent of the available space on the back. It's different for tiger mechs since they are quadruped machines with more but comparably smaller legs.
The flight system and the twin flamethrower mounts only occupied around forty percent of the mech's back. While that didn't mean that sixty percent of the real estate could be used to mount external modules, his alternative concept was at least a lot better off in this regard!
Nonetheless, Gloriana immediately pointed out the critical flaw to this alternate design.
This mech is a bit worse off in terms of defense. Compared to a humanoid mech which is able to present its entire strong side towards the enemy, your bestial striker mech can easily expose its vulnerable flight system and back-mounted components to the enemy. If the enemy attacks from multiple angles, its difficult for this mech concept to guard all of its VULNERABLE external modules.
Ves reached out to the figurine in her hands and oriented it so that its snarling maw directly looked in her face. Its front profile is a lot smaller as a consequence. Against distant opponents who are all approaching from a single direction, it's difficult to target its broader side profile. The only way to target its back-mounted modules is if they gain a favorable angle, which won't be easy.
In most space battles, the enemy closed in from a single direction. Only when they came close enough did the distance shorten to a point where flanking maneuvers actually resulted in greater angles of approach.
I don't know, Ves. She continued to frown as she put down the figurine on a table. I understand what you are trying to accomplish, but an excessive amount of back-mounted modules is nothing different than exposing its internals. The point of armoring a mech is to protect the critical but fragile components that make it work. Both melee mechs and ranged mechs can easily cripple your bestial striker mech's external modules if they attack from the sides. In comparison, our original humanoid striker mech design is better off since its back is firmly oriented to the rear, which is much more difficult to reach.
She was right. Ves deflated a bit as he tried but failed to muster up a good counterargument. Though he already anticipated this problem to an extent, it was very difficult to determine whether the humanoid version or the bestial version fared better in actual combat.
Let me think about it some more.
No. Gloriana lifted her palm. A lot of times, your ideas have merit. This is not one of those times. If you wanted to design a melee mech or an artillery mech, then the tiger shape makes a bit more sense. A striker mech is not as fitting. You're casting aside the advantages of a tiger mech in the form of its superior mobility on solid surfaces for marginal benefits that bring their own host of problems.
It features a higher capacity!
That capacity comes at a greater cost! Unless you are willing to turn your tiger mech into a camel mech, there is no way to adequately protect its back exterior!
The two argued a bit further, but Gloriana succeeded in gaining the upper hand. She pointed out all of the critical conceptual and practical flaws related to trying to turn a tiger mech into a striker mech.
With the requirements and limitations they were working under, Ves' alternate concept simply failed to bring enough advantages to convince his girlfriend to adopt it. To her, it was a failed experiment.
Don't take it too hard. She said and pressed the side of her body against him. Your mech is still viable, but not enough to pass muster. It's just that there aren't a lot of bestial mech pilots in the Komodo Star Sector, which will certainly affect its immediate market appeal. Striker mechs are supposed to be quick to learn but slow to master. Turning to a tiger mech shape will just increase the skill floor of our mech while keeping its skill ceiling just as high, if not higher. It won't be a good sell.
Ves took the mech figurine from her hands and studied it a bit further. You're right.
If he had his way, then he would have attempted to design both mech designs and compare their actual performance through extensive testing. He could adopt the best-performing one as the definitive design while throwing the other into his archive of unfinished work.
The problem was that this entailed a lot of work. While there were plenty of mech companies and mech designers who adopted this labor-intensive approach towards mech design, the extra work and effort needed to deliver two high-quality designs instead of just a single one was not something he could afford to do. He had way too much work on his plate and doubling his design workload without yielding any obvious gains was far too wasteful!
All of this meant that Ves had to make a choice. He could choose to acquiesce to Gloriana's recommendation and drop his tiger mech idea. He could also choose to force everyone to adopt his alternative concept.
When Ves glanced at Gloriana, she looked back at him with expectation. It was as if she already knew his choice and was just waiting for him to open his mouth to issue his surrender. Nothing about her demeanor suggested that she was in the mood for any nonsense!
This situation did not sit well with Ves. He felt as if he was faced with an insanely difficult puzzle. Instead of solving it completely, Ves and Gloriana settled on a partial answer.
In a school test, the two would probably be able to gain 60 points out of a 100 points. While that sounded like a passable grade, Ves was not satisfied with his lackluster result!
He wanted a higher score! Even if obtaining 100 or even 90 points was out of reach, he still wanted to score at least 70 points, which would already put his striker mech design above most of the competition in technical performance alone!
Ves rubbed his eyes in thought. Maybe.. We don't need to adopt a tiger mech. We don't need to adopt a humanoid mech either. What if.. we can merge them together? What if we detach ourselves from the boundaries of established mech shapes and just come up with our own?!
You're talking about designing an aberrant mech. Gloriana curled her mouth in distaste. They're very difficult to design. They don't equate to any of the standard humanoid or bestial mech shapes, so we have to research all of the fundamental mechanisms concerning its unique shape from scratch. That is a lot of work, and it's not evident that we'll be able to obtain any compelling gains. If a mech designer already came up with a compelling aberrant mech concept for a striker mech, it would have already been popularized in the mech industry.
You're right, but let's not knock this idea before we try it. Every mech designer's circumstances are different. Who knows, we might really be able to find an aberrant form that accomplishes all of the goals we set out to achieve!
Gloriana scooted away from him and crossed her arms. If you are really set upon this course, then by all means go ahead. I won't take part in your foolishness, though. The formula for striker mechs may be simple, but it's solid. You can't go wrong if you adopt the standard humanoid form.
After a bit of discussion, the pair eventually came to an agreement.
Ves had a week to come up with an aberrant mech concept for their current project. If his efforts failed to pass muster after a week of exploration, then he would be forced to give up his search for a better mech concept and rejoin Gloriana in designing their humanoid version.
If it was up to me, I wouldn't give you more than a day. Gloriana huffed. I know you wouldn't be resigned if I didn't give you enough time to ram your head against the wall. You need to experience true failure before you are ready enough to admit the futility of your current direction.
How charming of her to beat down his hopes.
You could have wished me good luck, Gloriana.
She smirked. When it comes to work, I'm always serious. I can't bring myself to lie to you about your chances of success. Personally, I think you have enjoyed way too many successes recently. You need to be taken down a peg, and there's no better way to do so than allowing you to try and fail to climb over an impassable hurdle.
He tried his best not to take her words to heart. Ves wasn't the kind of mech designer who gave up before he made an actual attempt. A week was a lot of time for him to explore further alternate concepts.
He already developed some initial ideas.
We'll find out after a week.
The two separated after Ves accepted this challenge. Gloriana would continue to work on the main design with only occasional input from him in order to make sure its spiritual development was still on track.
Ves sat down behind a different terminal and began to think. How could he come up with a mech concept that possessed all of the strengths of a humanoid striker mech but offered a bit more capacity at no significant cost?
Nothing comes for free. He whispered to himself. I have to make some sacrifices to the mech design in order to obtain the necessary capacity.
He began anew by loading in the humanoid version into his mental design program. He snipped off the legs, freeing up a lot of space but at the cost of removing a lot of potential buffer and crippling its mobility in gravity conditions.
Nonetheless, legs weren't as critical in spaceborn mechs as landbound mechs, so it was not unusual to see mechs with incomplete limbs, though admittedly they mostly tended to be cheaper products.
What can I do with this starting point? He wondered.