When Ves opened the decorative box, he looked at the object resting on a bed of soft, folded fabric.
"Is that a knife?"
Ves picked up the plain but serviceable hilt of the knife and drew it out of hits sheathe. The gleam of its slender alloy blade shone in a similar luster as the greatswords wielded by most of the Swordmaidens.
"It's a curiosity crafted by the same swordsmith we commission all of our swords from. I don't know how he does it, but he crafts the sharpest bladed implements in the Faris Star Region." Mayra explained. "Be careful with the blade and tip! Don't run your fingers over the edge. It can cut right through most alloys with just a moderate application of force. Even your fancy armor won't survive against this weapon."
Ves hastily drew back his armored fingers from the edge of the knife. "Does it have a name?"
"Cadisis, the Backstabber. The stiletto design lends itself great for penetrating sturdy armor. As long as you maintain it well, it can pierce through thin sheets of compressed alloy. If nothing else, it's narrow and compact enough that you can slip it inside your custom armor."
"I'll have to expand one of the storage compartments to fit the Cadisis, but it is definitely worth it. If this blade is of the same nature as your famous swords, then this is a sumptuous gift!"
"To be honest, we received the Cadisis as a gift from the aforementioned swordsmith. While we appreciated the gesture, we have found no use for this weapon." The Journeyman admitted. "The Swordmaidens fight our opponents openly and try to make ourselves trustworthy in the eyes of our allies. Making use of the Cadisis clashes with the rest of our armaments and sends the wrong message."
"And you figured I'm enough of a bastard that the Cadisis is a good fit for me?"
"I imply no such thing." Mayra brushed away the accusation with a flick of her hand. "I am merely taking into consideration your lack of combat training. Even if I gift you with a combat knife, you're liable to cut yourself before you ever inflict a wound upon your opponent. Armed or not, you won't amount to anything against a trained warrior."
Ves studied the Cadisis carefully and sensed his Spirituality brushing against the faint concepts embedded within. As a weapon on the same tier as the iconic swords wielded by all of the graduated Swordmaidens, every aspect of its design screamed quality. The swordsmith that fashioned the Cadisis put a lot of care and effort into creating the perfect backstabbing implement.
The more he studied the weapon, the more he became puzzled why the Swordmaidens obtained this weapon. It truly wasn't a weapon suited to its former owners. Had the swordsmith attempted to convey a hidden message with this gift?
"Since this is a handcrafted weapon made with care and love, is there something special about it besides its sharpness?" He asked. "I don't quite recognize these alloys. They look similar to the ones incorporated in your swords, but they feel different."
Mayra clapped and smiled. "Good judgement. The entire Cadisis incorporates a small amount of exotics that renders it nearly undetectable from most sensors. While it isn't stealthed against optical sensors, you can sneak it past most forms of weapon detectors, metal detectors, mass detectors and etcetera. The Cadisis isn't called the Backstabber for nothing."
While Ves truly appreciated the craftsmanship of the Cadisis, he didn't know if he'd ever be able to make use of it. After all, he already possessed another named weapon that was already powerful enough to take care of most threats. He also couldn't quite figure out why Mayra chose to gift him a weapon that symbolized betrayal right after he made a promise to take care of Ketis.
He had a feeling the entire act of gifting was suffused with symbolism and hidden meanings. Was Mayra attempting to hint to him that the Swordmaidens planned to betray the Vandals down the line? Did she give him the weapon as a silent warning of what might happen to him if he failed to carry out his promises?
Whatever the case, Ves couldn't figure it out right now. He resheathed the weapon and placed it back in the box before closing it. He needed to make some adjustments to his Earth Ant in order to carry the Cadisis. He may not yet have figured out a use for this gift, but there was no harm in adding another tool to his toolbox.
"Ah, with all of this talk, I almost forgot about why I came to visit in the first place." Ves said. "I'd like to consult you on some of the technical issues that the Vandals have encountered. I'd like to ask for advice, is that alright?"
"Feel free to ask. The problems that you Vandals are suffering from are hardly unique." Mayra remarked while gesturing Ketis to come sit next to her. "Ketis, come over here. Perhaps you can provide some input as well."
Ves proceeded to explain some of the more difficult issues he encountered, such as how to modify the cockpits so that its pilots could stay conscious even without an active antigrav field.
For the most part, Mayra gave out sage advice. While she didn't have a solution for every problem, she at least pointed him in the right direction, or forced him to look at the problem from a different perspective.
Ketis for the most part stayed silent as she lacked the experience to provide suggestions on her own. The issues plaguing Ves went far beyond her capacity to solve. Still, at least she soaked up lots of knowledge from their mutual exchange.
After two hours of fruitful discussion, Ves bid the pair goodbye and exited the workshop. As he returned to the Vandal side of the camp, he continued to admire the various mechs employed by the Swordmaidens.
The Devil Razors and the Silver Valencias joined several other mech models that carried Mayra's distinctive mark. Compared to the mechs that the Swordmaidens must have procured elsewhere, Mayra's work all carried a common refrain that enabled Ves to puzzle out the woman's design philosophy.
"If I'm not mistaken, her design philosophy has something to do with making the best out of suboptimal materials. Mayra's mechs may not be the most impressive for a Journeyman mech Designer, but they are very efficient and cost-effective."
To Ves, her design philosophy echoed some of the design philosophies of both the Skull Architect and Master Katzenberg from the Leemar Institute of Technology. It was an extremely suitable design philosophy for a mech designer who operated in the frontier where many resources couldn't readily be obtained.
In general, design philosophies that focused on increasing efficiency and mitigating the scarcity of high-quality materials should be very common in the galactic rim.
As a region blessed with less stars and a much lower concentration of rare and energetic exotics, mech designers didn't so much focus on developing the strongest mech designs. They simply couldn't afford to. Instead, they focused on maximizing the performance of their mech designs with the resources at hand.
Some pursued this goal more directly, such as Master Katzenberg who actively pursued cheap substitutes for higher value exotics, or the Skull Architect who sought to square the circle by focusing on pure design.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
Others approached this problem from an oblique angle. Master Olson's specialty in longevity, endurance and engine design allowed her to design mechs that lasted for days on the battlefield and lessened the logistical pressure of the forces that deployed her products.
Ves fell into this category as well. His design philosophy chased after the X-Factor, a largely unexplored source of power of mechs that amplified their performance without costing anything but a portion of his Spirituality.
"Each of us are pursuing methods of strengthening mechs without straight-up resorting to more expensive materials."
Personally, he felt that this approached the essence of good design. Any mech designer could produce a stellar-performing mech with materials worth billions of credits. It took an amazing mech designer to design a mech that performed just as well with a budget that was a hundred times smaller.
As Ves returned to the camp, he found his assigned bunk and tried to sleep over the issues.
He had a fitful sleep. While the prefab barracks blocked out all of the light shining from above, the constantly-flowing astral winds sometimes caused space and time in the vicinity to ripple a bit. By the time the ripples reached the rocky surface of the Super Earth, their effects had diminished, but every Vandal and Swordmaiden still felt their effects.
It felt like his body was getting blasted by invisible sound waves every two minutes or so. It took some time for Ves to fall to sleep under those conditions. Some of the other Vandals had to take sleeping pills to do so.
The next day, the same bright skies greeted him again as he went back to work. By now, the Vandals set up a series of workshops where mech technicians performed continuous repairs on mechs that they thought should have been able to withstand the heavy gravity but actually couldn't.
No one was to blame for the faults, but it reflected an unfortunate lack of competence in preparing them for deployment on a Super Earth. Too many of the work crews had been rather lackadaisical in implementing the full raft of modifications suggested by Ves.
The only reason why this hadn't grown into a bigger issue was that enough landbound mechs still worked as expected to be sent out on regular patrols and reconnaissance missions. Right now, the Vandals and the Swordmaidens still needed to finish their preparations before they could begin their trek.
As Ves applied some of the solutions suggested by Mayra in problems such as modifying the cockpits so that the piloting seats could recline, Captain Byrd finally scheduled her first staff meeting.
As Ves put down his work and entered the nearby headquarters bunker, he entered a cramped, underground conference room. A host of new and familiar Vandals entered the room, with the mech officers congregating on one side of the room while the various support personnel dominated the other side.
Captain Byrd entered last.
This was the first time Ves saw her in person. She was older than Captain Orfan, who glared at her fellow mech captain with jealous eyes. Captain Byrd took no notice of the brash captain's attention and walked to the front of the conference room in a steady gait.
"Alright Vandals. I've called you here today to discuss our immediate plans for the future. Our progress so far is slower than I like, but we should be ready to move within two or three weeks."
A couple of Vandals groaned. That was far too slow for the more aggressive Vandals such as Captain Orfan. If she was in charge, she would have exhorted them to move despite their lack of preparations.
Captain Byrd approached their circumstances from an entirely different angle. Some people thought that she went overboard.
Ves didn't agree with her critics. As someone who appreciated good preparation, he fully supported her slow and steady approach. He'd rather bring too much tools and not need most of them than to bring an empty toolbox and find himself helpless without any means to solve the problem.
"This meeting does not revolve around the plans that we've already made. They are set in stone and none of it is negotiable." The ranking officer said.
Though she didn't look at Captain Orfan and her buddies, the remark hadn't been pointed anywhere but to the aggressive faction.
"Instead, our scouts sent out to the nearest settlement have returned with detailed footage and sensor readings. Behold the ancient city that is situated six-hundred kilometers southwest from our camp."
A projection came to life, depicting an old and half-crumbling city surrounded by a massive rusting metal wall!
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