A lot could change in three days. Transforming a collection of low-grade parts into a single mech required both effort and thought. Ves supplied the latter while the mech technicians supplied the former. Neither of them held back in their attempts to transform the limited Pointed Sentinel into a strong and valiant New Sentinel.
Working day and night, the sleep-deprived mech technicians sacrificed much to maximize their productivity. Under the constant babysitting of Chief Haine, the techs found the will to keep pushing onwards and complete a week's worth of work in less than half the time.
At the latter half of the three-day period, the mech technicians started to slip up. Even if they could push themselves to stay awake with the help of stimulants, their concentration inevitably suffered. Plenty of work had to be redone due to small mistakes. This was also why the tech crew hadn't managed to finalize the assembly of the New Sentinel up to now. They still needed to catch up to the last tasks that needed to be done.
Everyone was dead-tired right now except for Ves, whose physique easily sustained a few extra sleepless nights. All of them yearned to drop into comfortable beds. Hell, they didn't even need a bed.
"Seeing is believing." Chief Haine said as she admired the frame of the New Sentinel that she had practically shaped by proxy. "I didn't think your frankenstein mech would work, to be honest. There's so much complexity involved in mating those different parts together that I didn't believe a few hour's worth of design planning can solve all of the compatibility issues."
Ves looked at his New Sentinel with pride. To outside eyes, the contours of the mech did not differ too much from the Pointed Sentinel. Though the arms and legs appeared to be different, Ves had deliberately selected stronger limbs that nonetheless match the proportions of the original ones. This prevented a lot of troublesome compatibility issues such as disrupting the balance due to grafting a muscled arm onto a thin female's frame.
Outwardly, the New Sentinel hadn't changed too much. Inwardly, the mech had practically gone through a rebirth. Ves replaced virtually every core component with stronger ones salvaged from various mechs. Besides the cockpit and the internal support structure, hardly anything was left from the Pointed Sentinel.
"With a new engine, power reactor, sensors, a set of energy cells and more, the upper ceiling on the New Sentinel's performance is roughly twice as high as its predecessor." Ves predicted. "That should be more than enough to cope with Captain Orfan's demands."
"I'm still a bit iffy about the transplanted artificial musculature. That's an enormously risky operation, you know. It's not every day we do something like that."
"Even if there are minor errors in the implementation, the New Sentinel can cope with it. The raw power that the mech will gain from this transplant is more than worth the risk."
Ves highly prioritized the act of unifying the artificial musculature. All of those limbs came from different mechs. The biggest compatibility issue that arose from merging them with the torso of the Pointed Sentinel was that the muscles simply wouldn't match. Trying to fudge them around until they mated with each other took too much time.
So Ves decided to do something drastic. He ripped out all of the old muscles and transplanted a set of new one. This set came intact from a single complete mech wreck. Ves would have no worries about incompatibilities as a consequence, but trying to make them compatible with the New Sentinel was an extremely difficult challenge.
This momentous task consumed an enormous amount of time and effort from the mech technicians.
"I hope the mech won't lock up its muscles when we first boot it up." Chief Haine prayed. "We'll suffer a fatal blow if it turns out that all of our work is in vain."
"Your work won't be in vain. I can promise you that." Ves replied confidently.
He had a good feeling about the New Sentinel. Despite its unfinished state, the mech radiated a subtle aura of spirituality. The X-Factor had taken root in its frame. It not only infused a copy of the heavenly horse, but also carried the earnest aspirations of the mech technicians that worked on the frame.
The latter influence was miniscule, so they didn't pollute the spiritual quality of the mech. Ves even figured that it added some complexity to the X-Factor. The untamed ferocity of the heavenly horse was the dominant component of the X-Factor and should help unify the different parts into a single whole.
"All that is left is to load in the software." Ves spoke.
He stepped on a lifter platform that brought him over to the opened cockpit. After slipping inside, he loaded in the software and started making some final tweaks that he had been saving for last. This was necessary because the physical state of the New Sentinel didn't completely match the theoretical design schematics.
"A few screw ups and misinterpretations can pile up and lead to significant change."
Therefore, Ves had to spend a precious hour configuring the software to match the actual condition of the mech.
It took a little longer than he thought, everyone tentatively finished up their work on the mech. Every part was in place and the whole frame was put together nicely.
The entire crew looked at their mech with emotion. All of their sweat, blood and tears had been poured into this frame. Its complexity went far beyond a civilian mech.
Now was the time to put the mech to the test. Captain Orfan walked over in full piloting gear. During the last three days, she hadn't been idling. Ves had loaded in the virtual design of the New Sentinel to the simulator pod so she could become accustomed to its properties.
"Are you ready to mount your steed?" Ves asked the captain.
"I'm ready to roll!"
Boundless confidence radiated from the mech captain. She had never flinched away from the upcoming duel to the death. To a mech pilot like her, representing the honor of the Flagrant Vandals was a pivotal achievement in her career. The possibility of death had never swayed her courage!
"Be careful, captain. The physical copy won't move as smoothly as the virtual version. When you test it out, don't go full throttle just yet. Start off with the basic movements and slowly work your way up there. I might need to make more adjustments along the way."
"Got it. I'm not stupid, you know."
After the captain boarded the mech, everyone stepped far away as the mech finally booted up. Its humanoid eyes lit up as its power reactor started supplying power to the entire mech.
Ves sat behind a control panel and vigilantly stared at the telemetry transmitted by the New Sentinel. Though he already spotted a couple of minor hiccups, they didn't affect the performance of the mech too much. He already started performing some tweaks and uploaded the changes into the operating system of the New Sentinel.
The mech immediately became less discordant. So long as Ves didn't plan on making any drastic changes to the programming, he could continue to adjust the performance of the machine as it stayed operational.
"You can start moving, captain! Please move the limbs one by one!"
The New Sentinel slowly lifted up an arm. Nothing hitched up. It then started to rotate the limb around before performing increasingly more complex maneuvers. It repeated the same routine with the other limbs.
Throughout the testing process, Ves ceaselessly smoothed out the wrinkles to insure the programming didn't become a hindrance in the operation of the mech. As the New Sentinel moved over to a testing ground and started to put its frame to its paces, the mech continued to hold up.
"It's a success!"
"I can't believe we got a frankenstein mech to work!"
"How is it possible that this mech runs so well!?"
By the time Captain Orfan had to stop in order to rest up for the upcoming duel in the evening, everyone looked gratified that their efforts hadn't been in vain. At the start, many of them held doubts. They thought that Ves foolhardedly picked the most complex approach to improving the Pointed Sentinel.
Now that they witnessed the increased performance of the New Sentinel first-hand, they knew that the sacrifice was worth it. The unrestrained power the New Sentinel exhibited significantly exceeded their expectations!
"Hah!" Orfan laughed as she hopped out of the cockpit. "I wasn't sure I'd be able to pilot such a good mech in battle, but you sure delivered on your promise, Mr. Larkinson! That Avid Serpent won't stand a chance with my new mech!"
The performance of the New Sentinel couldn't match her service mech, but it came close enough to accommodate her fighting style. This was a mech with very good bones and muscles. Even if it was clumsy in some areas, it did not lack in reaction speed and agility!
Compared to a piece of trash like the Pointed Sentinel, the frankenstein mech was a machine fit for the arena!
"Go take a break and prepare yourself for the upcoming event." He told her. "I'll hang back and perform some minor optimizations."
Ves didn't require anyone's help, so he dismissed the tired mech technicians as well. They deserved a well-earned rest.
Left alone in the workshop, Ves looked at the fruit of his labor and sighed to himself. This project only took three days, but the difficulty involved with getting it to work rivaled the challenges he faced when he designed the Blackbeak and the Crystal Lord.
"In some way, the New Sentinel is my third original mech design."
He missed the experience of designing a mech. Spending so much time with the Vandals taught him a lot, but one thing he regretted was that the Vandals didn't allow him to showcase his design ability.
When this honor duel first came about, Ves immediately skipped the easier options because they amounted to nothing more than modifying an existing mech. Such changes didn't go far enough in his eyes.
"This is what I live for. A mech designer can't do without designing mechs."
This experience reminded him that he should never lose sight of his core purpose.
Ves met many mech designers along his way who fell off the correct path. Many mech designers who failed to jumpstart their careers shifted into other jobs such as repairing or appraising mechs.
Other mech designers who hadn't been able to stand up on their own in the market joined larger influences and became part of large design teams. Though this still allowed them to contribute to new designs, they would never gain as much compared to the lead designers.
Only by making all of the major design choices by themselves would mech designers be able to refine their ability to design a mech!
"Every other path except for designing your own mech leads to a dead end."
This was what he believed in. Though talented designers could still climb up the ranks as part of a design team, they inevitably developed gaps that might be hard to make up in the future.
"I have to find a way to keep designing mechs." He concluded. "I'll stagnate if I stop for a long period of time."
This was easier said than done. The mech designers of the Mech Corps worked in rigid design teams where Seniors decided everything. Ves was far from reaching that height.
"Hm, unless there's a drastic change, I'll likely remain in charge of administration before going back to being a number cruncher."
The positions he took up with the Vandals rounded out his experience, so he hadn't wasted his time. The experiences he went through would serve him well for the rest of his career once he became involved with more collaborative projects.
Ves shook his head and dragged his mind out of the clouds. "I shouldn't pat myself on the back too soon. I still need to touch up the New Sentinel before it's ready to fight for real."
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