The Mech Touch

 
 

The Mech Touch Chapter 299 Undercharge


Ves hadn't spent 13,000 DP in vain.

The Energy Storage IV and Conductors III Sub-Skill provided him with enough of a foundation to take any existing energy cell design and transform it into something else. They also provided him with a promising approach on how to deal with the overcharge phenomenon.

"The Glowing Planet's energy field can't be stopped or blocked. An energy cell will acquire an overcharge whether they're empty or full. The energy field makes it so that energy cells won't let physics stand in the way of stuffing themselves full with energy."

What did this mean?

"I should just let it happen. The key is to mitigate the problem after it has occurred."

The simplest and most primitive way would be to drain the overcharge, either by siphoning it elsewhere or by using it up in a rapid fashion.

"I'm sure someone is already figuring out a way to do that. It's not very efficient or safe, though."

Dealing with such a deadly amount of charge risked courting disaster. Any excessive transfers also generated massive amounts of heat and stressed out any components involved. Mechs would require daily maintenance to continue to function this way.

Such a solution merely exchanged one problem for another.

Ves wanted to develop a more elegant solution. In order to gain entry into the fortifications erected by the Mech Corps, Ves had to present the brass with a new design that could impress them on the spot.

"Let's think about the structure for a moment."

Pretty much every mech-grade energy cell focused on cramming as much energy as possible inside its standardized volume. The materials and structures used in the cell focused primarily on maximizing their energy density.

Ves wondered if a structure that prioritized a different goal would be able to achieve a different result. Every energy cell he encountered so far used the same principles to store their energy. They only different in the safeguards and the materials used, leading to a limited variation of structures that basically looked the same from a distance.

A couple of different ideas flourished in his mind. Ves opened the designer program and spent some time designing alternate energy cell designs using existing ones as the base.

To put it simply, Ves thought he might find a solution by lowering the energy density of a cell. In essence, he wanted to see whether the overcharge phenomenon could maintain its strength against an energy cells that had been purposefully designed to be bad.

He only spent half a day to come up with four different designs, which he further split up into cheap and expensive variants.

Compared to conventional energy cells, these deviations worked a lot less efficiently than others. They generated substantially more waste heat while holding much less charge in total.

"It's all well and good to doodle some new designs, but the only way to see if it works is if I fabricate some physical copies."

Ves left his bunk and went to the nearest workshop. The Whalers brought a cheap 3D printer to this expedition. It was the sole machine that could print new components if their mechs required replacement parts.

He unconsciously sneered at the sight. The cheap and awful printer had obviously been salvaged from a former production site. Lack of maintenance and overall neglect had degraded the machine to a fairly awful state. The Whalers didn't even bother using it to fabricate most of their replacement parts, preferring to order new ones from another source.

"Well, it's not like I have anything better to work with. Let's fix her up."

He performed some superficial maintenance on the machine. The machine probably hadn't received so much care in a decade. Most of what he did amounted to cleaning the interior and correcting the alignment of any components that had shifted during intensive jobs.

Ves lacked the expertise to bring the printer back to its prime, not that he had the time to spare in the first place. "This should be enough to work with some precision."

He didn't place a lot of demands on the quality of his energy cells. He only wanted some proof of concepts to test out his ideas.

As some of the simpler components of a mech, the printer didn't have to strain too much to spit out the energy cells. It only took two hours to fabricate all eight of them. Ves ordered a couple of bots to take them away to an empty underground testing chamber he appropriated from the Whalers.

While it didn't matter if they held a charge or not, Ves charged them up to full capacity anyway in order to hurry up the process. After that, he set some automated measuring equipment before leaving the energy cells alone.

Ves checked up on his experiment every twelve hours.

The first time he checked in, he raised his eyebrows. Surprisingly enough, one pair of energy cells that shared the same design acquired an overcharge after only several hours.

"If I want to develop a cheap bomb, then this should be the right direction. It's a shame no one will want this. It's too volatile."

He carefully directed a couple of bots to lift the two cells and take them far away from the base. After that, he made some more adjustments to his rig before he left the chamber.

Over the course of several days, Ves continued to visit the chamber to inspect his progress. The other pairs of energy cells eventually became affected by the overcharge phenomenon, but different than last time, the problem became much less severe.

Regular energy cells acquired a charge that varied from three to seven times their initial capacity. In contrast, his experimental designs only acquired a maximum charge of two times its initial capacity.

Ves chalked it up to the tricks he used to minimize the magnification of the charge. He introduced deliberate inefficiencies to stifle any way the energy field could accomplish its physically impossible effects.

Some tricks worked better than others. At the end, the final pair of energy cells which incorporated the most radical redesign gained an overcharge of only a hundred-and-thirty percent, which was drastically lower than anything else he'd seen so far. It also took a lot longer for the energy field to affect these cells, as if it couldn't figure out how to manipulate it in its favor.

The magnitude of any explosive discharges from these cells would be severely curtailed. Ves virtually eliminated the hazards with this design.

While Ves should have been happy with the result, he didn't jump for joy when he ended his test.

"Why am I only able to achieve the best results with my worst design?"

The fourth pair of energy cells only carried a third of the energy of their equivalent industry-standard cells. That basically meant that each mech that ran on energy cells had to choose between becoming moving bombs or working with seventy percent less uptime.

Ves figured that most mech pilots favored the latter. "It's not that much of a problem to a defensive force. The Mech Corps can fabricate an abundant amount of energy cells and instruct their mech pilots to resupply more often."

It was a much more tolerable situation than to constantly worry about chain reactions. Even if his so-called undercharged energy cells sustained critical damage, the explosion wouldn't set off any other cells due to the low magnification and low base charge.

In fact, mechs would be able to safely and quickly use up the meager amount of excess energy in their normal operations. That largely made up for the pitiful amount of capacity of his undercharged energy cells and extend the running time of any mech.

His only regret was that he lacked the time to finetune the design of his undercharged energy cells. Ves had already wasted a lot of time with coming up with these new energy cells and the the seventy-day deadline loomed closer every day. He couldn't afford to perform a second round of research and development.

While Ves wrapped up his experiments and drew up a report, up in space, the Glowing Zone hosted a lot more fleets than before.

"Another day, another group of incoming clowns." Ghanso sighed as his mech lazily patrolled the a detachment of carriers positioned to intercept anyone that wanted to make a move on the Mech Corps. "I never knew there were so many rats in the Komodo Star Sector."

Old Man Alex laughed as his space knight flew beside Ghanso's Vhedra-S. "We're right up against the frontier. It's a given that our star sector is filled with criminals. I'm guessing that at least a quarter of the pirates from the Nyxian Gap have made their way here."

The amount of pirates that have reached the Glowing Zone had reached a disconcerting level. Many of them organized themselves around major pirate organizations like the Dragons of the Void. Over ten such armadas have already formed and made their way towards the Glowing Planet.

"Do you think the rumors are true? Are we really going to sign a truce with the Vesians?"

"We have to." Alex said. "There are too many pirates for us to continue our squabble. Even if we hate each other, we're not stupid. Any fight to the death will only benefit the scum watching from the side."

Besides their initial skirmishes, the Mech Corps and the Mech Legion completely gave up any attempt to fob each other off from the Glowing Planet. Too many vultures had gathered to continue their schoolyard spat.

They would rather allow their principal enemy to benefit from the Glowing Planet than to pave the way for lawless pirates to reap the ultimate rewards. For this, they buried the hatchet.

"All the armada's are on the move again. They'll be here within days."

"It took them long enough to get their hands on a batch of dimensional smoothers. How are they getting their hands on them? I thought only the government or the Big Two has access to that technology."

"It's not that much of a surprise if you assume the pirates are backed up by another major power." Ghanso replied. He couldn't help but add an ominous tone to his voice. "I've been thinking about what's going on lately. Did you ever feel that we're being stared at by another influence?"

"Not at all. Who the hell is crazy enough to covet the Komodo Star Sector? Besides our border to the frontier, we've got nothing that's worth a damn. Anyone who's stirring the pot is probably bored or brain damaged."

Even if Old Man Alex had a point, Ghanso still couldn't shake off the idea that the pirates secretly worked for someone else.

An alert sounded out, prompting Captain Rynsel to issue new orders. "Heads up! Our fleet has detected incoming stealth vessels. They've been very sneaky in their approach, but our sensors spotted them out. The Volari Starhawks have been assigned to intercept this unknown fleet."

"Do we know of their origin, ma'am?"

"Command is just as clueless as you. It's likely not the Mech Legion. We already have a fairly complete database on the kind of ships they use. It's either pirates, mercenaries or foreigners."

That didn't reassure Ghanso very much. His Vedra-S fell into formation as the Volari Starhawks flew forward in a very obvious intercept of the unknown fleet.

This prompted the sneaky bastards to drop their stealth.

"Detecting fifteen medium-sized carriers! They're deploying spaceborn mechs! They're turning around!"

"Hah! The cowards don't have the guts to face the Starhawks face to face!"

"They're also outnumbered two-to-one. Those stealth carriers don't hold much capacity. They look awfully advanced, though."

Captain Rynsel relayed another order. "Pursue! We've got the advantage in numbers and they're still fighting back against their previous forward momentum! This is the only chance we have to catch up to them!"

The Volari Starhawks descended on the latest fleet of outsiders that attempted to sneak past the Mech Corps. They already destroyed or chased away a half-dozen different fleets. The Mech Corps held the advantage for now, but Ghanso doubted they would be able to hold against the major pirate fleets.

 
 


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