The Mech Touch
In order to maximize the cost-effectiveness of his mechs against the sandman threat, Ves had to make some hard choices.
Concerning the performance of his upcoming spaceborn rifleman mech, he decided to prioritize both offense and mobility over defense.
”In other words, a glass cannon with very powerful wings! ”
Defense by far the biggest resource hog of a mech.
Ves decisively gave up on expensive and hard-to-work-with compressed armor systems in order to save a lot of costs.
To resist the sandmen, a mech force had to take it out from a distance.
By the time they got close enough to engulf a mech, all the armor slowing it down only delayed the inevitable by a few more seconds.
”Instead, it ’s much better if my mech can accelerate quickly! The faster it moves, the longer it can take potshots at the approaching sandman vessels! ”
For mechs, speed was the only form of defense against the sandmen.
Though the sandmen also possessed ranged firing options, the lasers the sandmen vessels tended to shoot out were powerful but recycled very slowly.
”More armor won
’t help in that situation.
A mech will instantly get blasted no matter if they ’re light mechs or heavy mechs. ”
The sandmen mainly utilized their heavy laser attacks to cripple human starships.
As of now, they hadn ’t adapted their armament to resist swarms of mechs, though this might change in the future.
”Even if that happens, as long as my mechs can maintain its range, the sandmen will have difficulty predicting their targets, though some unlucky mechs will always get shot down no matter what. ”
This was why many defensive forces closer to the border failed to cope with the frequent sandman raids.
Fighting off a single sandman fleet wasn ’t necessarily difficult, but the powerful lasers the vessels shot out always eliminated a mech with a single shot!
A mech force lost at least several mechs and mech pilots in a single engagement.
If a mech force had to fight numerous battles against more and more sandmen fleets, then the constant attrition quickly added up until there were not enough mechs to hinder the relentless sandmen from overwhelming a star system!
Though it pained Ves to fail in coming up with a better solution to this threat, he had no choice but to discount armor almost entirely because he had no good solutions on this front.
Most mechs except heavy knights stood a realistic chance at resisting a full-powered laser strike from a sandman vessel.
”Now that I think about it, My Aurora Titan might be able to withstand a hit as well. ” He mused.
While its mobility was abysmal, it excelled at defense.
Its polarizing module massively strengthened his super-medium space knight ’s ability to resist energy damage!
”It will be interesting to see if it can actually take a hit! ”
While this sounded like a welcome surprise, Ves did not expect that sales for the Aurora Titan would pick up.
The mech could only withstand one or two hits at most before exhausting its reserves.
For a mech that sold for at least 100 million credits a piece, the price was far too high and completely out of sync with current market circumstances!
In any case, for his affordable rifleman mech, its primary form of self-preservation came in the form of better-than-average mobility.
For a spaceborn mech, this meant investing heavily in the flight system of his mech.
He had to pair up his mech with a powerful means to accelerate and outrun the hungry sandman vessels.
”My mech doesn
’t have to be nimble or agile.
It just has to have the raw power to accelerate quickly.
My mech also has to possess enough endurance to keep this up for at least an hour! ”
A decent level of endurance was vital.
Though mechs that ran out of power could always return to their carriers to replenish their energy cells and ammunition stores, this cycle took way too much time, especially during an ongoing battle.
”The greater the hassle, the less applicable my rifleman mech becomes.
” Ves judged.
”No one wants to go through a half-dozen cycles just to defeat a single sandman fleet. ”
Sandmen vessels were ordinarily quite massive, and it took a lot of damage to wear them down.
This wasn ’t a problem for military mech units as they often fielded hundreds of mechs at a time.
However, many outfits only fielded a single mech company or less.
Even if they pooled their forces together, they might not have the firepower to eliminate an encroaching sandman fleet quickly.
In such cases, Ves wanted to offer a mech design that was still able to cope under those circumstances.
”If I want my mech to have a respectable amount of endurance and uptime, I ’ll have to make sure my mech has enough energy and ammunition to last in the field. ”
This essentially meant that his rifleman mech couldn
’t be a light mech.
Ves had to add so much capacity to his mech that trying to keep his mech light was an exercise in futility.
Ves therefore defaulted to the standard of a medium mech.
It offered an appropriate balance between capacity and mobility.
”Since I ’m not spending a majority of the available capacity on armor, I can stuff my mech with a lot of energy cells and magazines. ”
With regards to firepower, Ves wanted to go for something cheap but effective against the sandman race.
A simple ballistic rifle firing cheap projectiles could do a better job than an entire squad of laser rifleman mechs against this specific threat.
”I don ’t necessarily need to pair my mech with an extravagant weapon. ”
More powerful ballistic rifles and their oversized ammunition took up vastly more space.
Lighter weapons performed adequately against the sandman since their defenses weren ’t based around solid armor.
A fast-firing ballistic rifle therefore inflicted a respectable amount of damage to the sandmen.
Even if their caliber was lighter than usual, it made no difference against this specific foe.
”More importantly, it ’s also cheaper! ”
By dedicating much of the capacity of his mech to storing ammunition, his rifleman mech would be able to fire at it without worrying about running out of shells in the first ten minutes.
This paired well with the final criteria on his list, which was that his new mech had to come with a low skill floor.
”Aside from affordability, a low skill floor is the most important selling point of my new mech! ”
According to the news and all of the market research he studied, the military and a lot of outfits were frantically trying to retrain their mech pilots.
Since deploying melee mechs against the sandman was an absolute waste, a lot of melee mech pilots were made redundant in this crisis!
Though they didn ’t like it, mech pilots who specialized in melee mechs had no choice but to undergo hastily-organized crash courses in how to pilot ballistic rifleman mechs.
It took years for mech pilots to gain an adequate amount of proficiency in a new mech archetype.
A couple of months of intensive training was not enough to turn a random melee mech pilot into an expert marksman.
”This is especially the case with melee specialists who aren ’t good at marksmanship! ”
A lot of mech pilots specialized in one or the other.
Rarely did they attempt to pursue both.
Those that did were often elites among mech pilots.
If it was so easy to become good at both, then hero mechs would have been regarded as a legitimate mech type instead of a joke!
As a Larkinson who spent a lot of time alongside Larkinson mech pilots, Ves knew very well why mech pilots specialized early in their academy days.
It took this much in order to become good enough to be trusted to pilot a war machine that cost at least several million credits.
Any mech pilot who committed much less training in a chosen piloting field was likely to form a liability in the battlefield.
In most cases, a melee specialist forced to pilot a ballistic rifleman mech could still contribute to a battle if it left most of the aiming to the automated targeting system.
”This is actually not that big of a downside. ”
Against mechs piloted by competent human opponents, a melee specialist would fare extremely poorly if forced to pilot ranged mechs.
Against the typical sandman threats, the prevailing rules no longer applied.
The sandman admirals who led most of their fleets were very unimaginative and inflexible.
The extent of their tactics mostly amounted to dispatching their sandman brethren at their enemies in the form of large amalgamations in a straight line!
Due to their overall mass and size, sandman vessels were as large as regular starships and were very poor at dodging enemy fire.
This meant that most automated targeting systems were accurate enough to deliver good results against typical sandman vessels.
Of course, this was not a good solution against all sandman threats.
Most sandman admirals attacking human space appeared to be newborn and operated according to a standard manual.
However, as long as they grew older or accumulated more experience, they began to vary the deployment of their sandman.
They might adopt different configurations such as splitting up their large and vulnerable sandman vessels into other forms that fared better against mechs!
In fact, a small number of sandman admirals in the border states had already adapted to the prevailing opposition.
They began to deploy thousands of smaller sandman drones that were as agile as human-built mechs!
”I can ’t handle everything.
It ’s enough if my rifleman mech fares well against standard sandman vessels.
As for anything else, the Mech Corps will probably deal with the more troublesome sandman fleets themselves. ”
What the market demanded was a mech that did not impose too much of a burden to off-role mech pilots.
”I only have to make sure that the weapon system is easy to work with.
As long as my mech is simple, I don ’t have to dumb down anything else.
The operation of the limbs and the flight system of the mech can stay on the same level, as most of the users of my new mech will easily be able to carry over their skills from piloting melee mechs. ”
Ves had no illusion that the mechs he designed would be used as cannon fodder.
Their affordability and ease of use came at the cost of skill expression.
There weren ’t many ways for skilled mech pilots to make a cheap mech to outperform its expected parameters.
”Not that a lot of skilled ranged specialists will pilot my mech in the first place.
There are better alternatives available that do a much better job at drawing out their potential. ”
This was something very opposite to his first three commercial mech models.
The Blackbeak, Crystal Lord and Aurora Titan models only performed properly in the hands of advanced mech pilots.
Ves suddenly realized that his product strategy was very suited in times of stability and abundance.
However, during a crisis period, many customers had to tighten their belts and try to do more with less.
”There is no place for luxury during an existential crisis! ”
Due to the abnormal circumstances of the current market environment, a lot of unskilled mech pilots desperately required simple ranged mechs.
Only a small number of mech models in the markets met their needs, but even then these machines excelled mainly against nimbler human mech forces rather than sluggish but overpowering sandman fleets.
”There is a hole in the market, but this window of opportunity will only last for a brief amount of time before my competitors publish their new designs! ”
Though Ves wasn ’t used to targeting the lower end of the mech market, he believed he was still up to the challenge.
”However, if I can come up with this list of criteria, every other clever mech designer can do so as well! ”
He discounted the competition from low-ranking mech designers and solely regarded Journeymen and Seniors as his main rivals.
The latter were especially formidable due to their abundant experience, extensive knowledge base and highly-developed specialties.
”If I want my product to stand out from the crowd, then I need more than a basic mech concept.
I have to tie all of the requirements together into an attractive and compelling vision! ”
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