The Mech Touch

 
 

The Mech Touch Chapter 399 Three Problems


Ves returned to his penthouse office after finishing his discussions on expanding the Avatars of Myth. Considering the vast nature of their current expansion, it wasn't possible to expand their fighting strength to forty mechs within six months.

"It will probably take a year, if not more." He guessed. "These things take time."

If he wanted to, he could hire a mercenary corps instead, but that would be a huge mistake. They only ever cared about themselves. By establishing his own outfit, Ves would be certain that its power belonged to him and no one.

He threw himself back to his work. With the prototype still undergoing tests at the nearby testing grounds, Ves wanted to take care of any other matters that he neglected as of late. He turned on his terminal and went through the recent reports sent in his direction.

"Local politics, bah."

The self-bombing incident of Orinoco provoked an enormous amount of outrange. If the citizens of Cloudy Curtain seemed mad, then the rest of the Republic were absolutely head-over-heels about this incident. If not for the valiant defense at the Mech Nursery, the reputation of the entire planet would have already plummeted to the bottom.

Ves briefly skimmed the recent events. The investigators from Bentheim hadn't found any proof that led to the ones responsible for the devastation, but that didn't help the White Doves very much. Everyone pretty much assumed they did it because it fit their ideology the best.

Naturally, the spokespersons of the pacifists vehemently denied the accusations, but even their strongest supporters started to waver. The White Doves went into full crisis mode in order to stem the bleeding. Whether they would survive at the end of the day or not, nobody knew.

"They survived this far without any problem. I don't believe they can be felled by a single crisis."

Many citizens still wanted nothing to do with the war and the wider galaxy. The recent horrors taught some people that they couldn't bury their heads in the sand, but it prompted even more people to bury their heads even deeper.

In her report, Calsie predicted that the White Doves would eventually find their footing with the radicals among their circle.

What this meant for Cloudy Curtain as a whole, neither Ves nor Calsie didn't dare to make any predictions. One thing was for sure. The LMC's influence had reached new heights. On both an economic and societal level, the company became a steady fixture in the minds of everyone who lived on the rural planet.

That wasn't too shabby for a company founded around two years ago.

Ves turned back to his paperwork and went through all the other reports. The company's financial picture looked better than before. All of the recent spending put the company's financial health in a dangerous position for a time, but the LMC quickly climbed out of the hole with the help of increased demand for bronze label Blackbeaks.


People bought them because they admired the battle footage of the two gold label Blackbeaks. The Marketing Department's excessive promotion seemed to be in poor taste to Ves, but the public couldn't get enough.

Since gold and silver label Blackbeaks were hard to get, buyers turned instead to the third-party manufacturers to get a quick fix. EME even instituted a waiting list again as they received an unanticipated influx of orders.

Vaun Industrial also enjoyed a small boost in sales, though the effect was much less pronounced. Foreigners didn't care too much about the Bright-Vesia Wars. Anyone watching the generational conflict from the sidelines thought that nothing substantial happened during these wars because the border between the two states never shifted very much after the end of each war.

"Countless mechs are destroyed and hundreds of thousands of mech pilots die in each and every war. The stars will be dyed with blood by the time this latest war will end."

When Ves read the reports, he spotted signs of an impending mobilization order. The Bright Republic had only switched to half a war footing right now. They hadn't mobilized nearly as much manpower and assets as they could have because it took time to organize everything.

So instead, the Bright Republic stretched out the process in multiple steps. Right now, the reports suggested that the Mech Corps had almost finished mobilizing what could be brought to bear within the short-term.

In the first wave, they would certainly call up a large number of reservists, including many mech designers. Many of them would move on to supporting the Mech Corps in the rear but close to the frontlines.

Ves believed that a mech designer like him escaped that fate. Someone of his stature would probably be called up the second wave, which would happen a little later but was not too long away.

"I have to publish my rifleman mech design before that happens. Even among mech designers, there's a large difference between those who published a single commercially successful design compared to those who published more."

Publishing multiple successful designs enhanced his prestige, which improved his odds of landing a cozy assignment. It could mean the difference between mindless number crunching to actual design work.

Ves tentatively resolved to complete his design within a month, which actually shortened his time to a few weeks because his design also had to go through the MTA's validation process.

"There's barely enough time for me to squeeze in another prototype."

He already had to hurry up the process and cut some corners in order to finish his second design in a reasonable time frame.

Several days went by as Ves reacquainted himself with his company. Besides holing up in his office, he also held meetings with the heads of each department. Ves got a much better picture of the current state of the LMC after listening to the people in charge of its various aspects.

All of them made some early preparations for the coming release of the company's second product line. The market for rifleman mechs was very competitive, so the Marketing Department carried the heaviest burden of all.

"Are you confident you can drum up demand for my second design?" Ves asked Gavin.

"Oh, it's dead easy as long as your design performs within expectation. We can sell a dead rat as long as it has some good points!"

Gavin's words reminded Ves that his design might not match the expectations placed upon it. Even as he fabricated the prototype, Ves got a sense that the mech had been a little discordant.

At the end of the testing period, the results finally came in. Ves received an extensive written report along with countless logs and a lot of recordings. Carlos, who had been supervising the test, visited Ves in his office in person.

"I can already tell on the look on your face that the news isn't good."

"The prototype is largely sound, except for one annoying aspect."

"Let me guess. It's the gimmicks, right?"

"Exactly so." Carlos confirmed as he manipulated the projector to display a recording of a couple of firing tests. "As you can see here, we got the rifle to work after a bit of kludging. We rearranged some of its internal components to get it to work, but at we can get the weapon to work."

Ves nodded. "I'll be sure to study the modifications you've done to make it work. How did the big crystal fare?"

"The center crystal is a bust." His old friend bluntly stated. "Oh, don't misunderstand, we got some things to work, such as the ability to draw in energy. It's the discharge that's the issue."

"Lay it out on me, Carlos. I can take it."

"There are three major problems with the big crystal. First, it's output isn't steady. Sometimes it released a trickle, other times it dumps its entire capacity at once."

"So the control module I've attached to the crystal doesn't work?"

"It might as well be a piece of scrap! It's existence doesn't make any difference!"

"Noted. What else is wrong?"

"Well, our next problem with the chest crystal is we can't aim the light beam at all. The firing angle changes with each discharge. Sometimes, the beam goes high. Sometimes, it goes sideways. Other times, it goes low. Only rarely does the beam go straight and parallel to the ground."

Ves began to frown. "This is something else that the control module is supposed to take care of. Have you checked whether it worked at all?"

"We inspected it more than twenty times! All of the hardware works! It's just that the crystal outfight ignores its signals for some reason."

"Okay. The third problem then. What else is there?"

"Well, the final issue is a fundamental design flaw more than a mechanical problem. You see, if the crystal released the beam at a straight angle, the hunch of the frame makes it difficult to aim it forward or upwards. The mech has to bend its upper body backwards in order to discharge the beam anywhere else but the ground. The test pilot told us that it's a huge tell that largely defeats the purpose of having a center crystal."

Ves already understood that point when he made those design choices. Even though his vision for his mech had changed to imitate the posture of the crystal builders, he didn't regret the choice.

"This also ties in with the control module. If it worked as it's supposed to, it allows the mech to fire a beam from the chest at the right angle. While that doesn't help too much if the mech pilot wants to shoot at something in the air, it should be fine on level terrain."

All of these major problems came down to the control module. For some reason, it didn't work the way it was supposed to. Ves scratched his head and tried to figure out why. It wasn't anything complex and Ves triple-checked each part that made up the control module, so he hadn't screwed it up.

There was something more fundamental in play. Ves found it strange that the control module worked perfectly in the simulations, but did nothing when he reproduced a physical copy."

Carlos continued to fill in Ves of all the pertinent information. Besides the malfunctioning gimmicks, the rest of the mech moved fast and smooth. According to the test pilot, it was the most comfortable rifleman mech he had ever piloted in his career.

"I don't get it." He said. "Your rifleman mech is mechanically sound and strong on its own if you leave out the gimmicks. That modified laser rifle of yours isn't really necessary either. Sure, it cuts down on total weight, but it's much easier to grab a readily available laser rifle than to supply a custom-built one for this model. Why bother with these crystals at all?"

That was a difficult question, especially in light of all the difficulties Ves faced in trying to get it to work.

Ves knocked his fist against the table. "No matter how troublesome it can be to integrate the gimmicks in my mech, the end product should be worth it. Mech design isn't all about the basics. The market expects more from us. Sure, I can publish a rifleman mech design without any bells and whistles right now if I wanted to, but what will that get me? Nothing!"

"The performance of your mech isn't that bad!"

"It's not good enough! Not if we compare it to the best on the market! That gimmick that you find so troublesome is our secret weapon and our only hopes of obtaining a share of the market."

Carlos sighed and crossed his arms. "You're too emotionally committed to this idea of including this toy into your mech. I know what's going on. You stumbled upon some fancy alien technology one day, and the first thing you do is try to find a way to add it to your next design. That's fine if you can get it to work, but who can tell if you are wasting countless of hours on a feature that will never meet our expectations?"

He laid out a very important question. In his eyes, Ves fell into the sunk cost fallacy. He was like a gambler who lost an early bet, but kept making bad bets one after another in order to recoup his earlier losses.

 
 


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