846 True to Mechs
The long days of marching continued. The mechs and legged transports moved forward at the pace of a snail. They couldn't help it as the heavy transports needed to fight against the heavy gravity without the aid of energy-intensive antigrav fields.
Of course, they still bled an enormous amount of energy like a sieve. Their energy budget looked worse and worse by the day. The demand for a solution to their energy deficit grew stronger as the amount of charged energy cells in storage decreased.
They were like thirsting refugees fleeing across an arid desert. Where could they find an oasis? Where could they quench their raging thirst?
Ves began to involve himself with the repair and maintenance of the Vandal mechs. He also checked how much progress Ketis achieved in solving difficult problems.
"I'm quite impressed you're capable of solving these thorny issues." He said as he browsed through a log that described the various serious breakdowns she solved. "Although there's room for improvement, you've become more and more inventive."
She snorted. "Those mechs tend to break down in the same way. Some parts just fail harder than other parts for some reason. Also, the mech technicians aren't entirely clueless. They've been solving the same problems over and over to the point where they don't need to call me anymore when a mech rolls in with the exact same issue."
"I see." Ves declined to point out that she questioned the intelligence of the mech technicians many times. "All of this sounds great, but haven't you ever thought about strengthening the error-prone parts so that they don't fail in the exact same way next time?"
Ketis looked at Ves as if he spoke an alien language. "Whuzzah?"
"You're treating the symptoms instead of the root cause of the disease."Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
"I thought the disease is the breakdown effect."
"Look, Ketis, the difference between mech designers and chief technicians is that the former makes sure to prevent recurring problems while the latter will keep getting hit on the head."
"Are you calling me stupid again?!"
Ves first stopped at a projection of one simple rifleman mech and amplified its leg area. "According to the logs, you've repaired this same mech five times for the same mechanical breakdown since I put you in charge, is that correct?"
"Yeah. Look at this joint here. It can't hold up to uneven pressure at all. It's so badly-designed that it practically snaps like a twig if uneven pressure is applied, which tends to happen a lot when random parts in the legs start messing up."
Ves tapped his armored finger against the surface of the console. "Haven't you ever considered redesigning this joint section into a stronger version?"
"I ah.. That's kind of hard, you know. Also, I'm just a guest designer. The Vandals don't trust me if I make any changes."
That was a valid concern. Ves expected more from Ketis, but she could be excused from holding back if she thought the Vandals didn't want her to become too involved with their mechs. She already gained a lot of insights about their machines.
Still, the Vandals had themselves to blame. None of the mech designers sent with the ground expedition were any good. Even Ketis lacked the required capability, but at least she was humble enough to know her shortcomings and earnest enough to learn.
"Alright, I'm back in charge for now, so you don't need to worry about that stuff. I'll take care of it myself. You've already learned the most valuable lessons anyway."
"Does that mean I'm no longer in charge of supervising the workshops?" She sounded like she might actually miss the job despite complaining about it all the time.
While Ves was tempted to keep her as his free helper for a while longer, she needed to expand her horizons. He shook his head. "It's not that helpful to your development unless you're willing to take some risks and start modifying the designs of our mechs. Since this is a rather sensitive matter, I don't advise you to begin doing so with us. Go back to Mayra at the Swordmaidens and tell her what I told you. I think she'll be more than willing to show you the ropes. Modifying a mech is like designing a variant, except it already exists."
After lecturing her a bit about the importance of learning how to modify a mech, Ves packed her off and virtually kicked her out to the Swordmaiden portion of the expedition.
Ves felt a little lonely now that Ketis had left. He knew he placed a bit too much interest in her development as a mech designer.
"Ketis, Qilanxo, what else? Am I becoming too attached to things, or is this an expression of what it is like to be human?"
He considered his interest in Qilanxo to be the same as loving a pet. That reminded him of Lucky. It had been years since he last held Lucky in his grasp. He hoped the people back on Cloudy Curtain took care of his mechanical cat and fed him lots of exotic minerals.
"I hope that mischievous cat doesn't get in trouble."
For lack of a better option, Ves strapped the comm holding the Mech Designer System onto Lucky's neck like a collar. With regards to the System, he couldn't trust anyone but Lucky with its safety.
Still, a long time had passed, and even more time would pass before he returned home. Ves really wanted to know how the Living Mech Corporation fared in his absence.
"At this stage in the war, reduced consumer spending, increased debt and resource shortages will surely affect my company's bottom line. The future won't be bright for the mech industry for the next couple of years."
The mech industry in the Bright Republic followed a boom-bust cycle. Times of prosperity alternated with times of misery and both market demand and resource costs fluctuated wildly.
According to historical trends, many mech manufacturers had already gone bust, particularly the smaller ones whose mech designers got drafted to serve the Republic.
After the war, a deep recession often set in as the demand for mechs fell to a low. A lot of forces including the Mech Corps incurred huge debts when they replenished their war losses in order to maintain their combat strength.
Therefore, they no longer ordered new mechs. Sometimes, they even tried to get rid of their used mechs in the second-hand market.
Veterans discharged from the Mech Corps cleverly founded their mercenary corps during this time and snapped up these second-hand mechs on the cheap.
Why buy a brand-new mech when a lightly-used mech that performed just as good was up to fifty percent cheaper?
It was hard for mech manufacturers to compete against the flood of used mechs. In addition, the transition to the next generation of mechs happened about half a decade later.
At this point in time, who wanted to purchase a currentgen mech that turned into lastgen trash goods in a relatively short amount of time?
Many mech procurers possessed a lot of savvy. They had to be, as even the cheapest mechs cost 3 million credits. With such vast sums being thrown around, it wasn't easy to fool these informed buyers.
"Maybe the minimum cost will be bumped up to 4 million credits instead soon."
The Bright Republic always spent more money than they earned. All of this deficit spending sent inflation soaring and sent the economy into a tumble.
Despite these pessimistic prospects, Ves remained confident that the LMC was able to tide over this difficult period.
"A recession is also a blessing to those who know how to grasp the opportunities."
A lot of businesses went bust, a lot of people got laid off and a lot of equipment and gear got dumped into the market. As long as the LMC still stood, there may be a way to double or triple its assets in less than a year.
However, the prerequisite of it all was that Ves and the company possessed an abundant amount of capital. Without money, how could he obtain anything?
Ves did not worry too much about the issue of money. Even if the LMC dug itself into a financial hole, the prosperity of a mech manufacturer depended on the abilities of the mech designer. Ves possessed enough confidence that he could make up any shortfall through both legal and illegal means.
Just the rudimentary ultracompact battery he developed by himself possessed an amazing amount of value to the tune of billions of credits. If necessary, he could anonymously sell it once or twice without drawing too much attention.
If he sold more than that in a short amount of time, he'd definitely attract unwanted attention, so he couldn't resort to such means for long.
"Well, it's just one of the many ways in which I can use what I learned to my advantage."
Ves waved away his thoughts for the future and focused on the present. He began to fall into his familiar role of overseeing the mech workshops. He also took a step ahead of Ketis and started lightly revising the designs of individual mechs to make them less error-prone.
If the same part broke three or more times in a row, then that signified a weak point in the design. As a mech designer, Ves couldn't stand such a vulnerability left alone.
While all of this work was rather tedious and not very challenging to Ves, he felt as if he nurtured his soul by getting back to mechs.
He slowly reflected on himself and realized that he had become too obsessed with his research on neural interfaces.
"I think I went a little bit overboard there."
His drive to learn and his hunger for knowledge cropped up again and pushed him to cross all kinds of dangerous lines. Spending too much time on this isolated planet made Ves lose all fear of repercussions.
"I can't continue that kind of behavior once I leave the frontier. The MTA and CFA may be non-existent threats here, but in civilized space they are very much a force to be reckoned with, even if they seem distracted lately."
Nonetheless, as much as researching the man-beast connection allowed him to learn a lot about mechs and gave him a bunch of inspiration, it was a bit too far removed from his core interests.
"I have to be more rational."
The problem was that mech designers depended heavily on passion to fuel their motivation. Ves encountered plenty of mech designers who possessed hollow passion but extremely rational minds.
They normally tended to be risk-averse cowards and losers.
"You can't get anywhere as a mech designer if you don't take some risks. The best motivation to take risks is when you pursue your passion!"
Ves needed to achieve a balance between passion and rationality. He needed to think with his mind as well as his heart.
While that sounded simple on paper, it was much harder to achieve in reality because humans were emotional creatures.
This was why he valued his return to normality. Resuming his old duties and getting his hands on mechs again cleansed his soul and doused the fires that drove him to irrational, hot-headed pursuits.
"Is this what every high-ranking mech designer has to struggle with?" He asked himself.
Ves felt a temptation to switch to full-time research. As long as any mech designer possessed a half-decent foundation in the sciences, they could explore the wondrous possibilities of what was possible by themselves and develop new theories or technologies.
Yet Ves had always been taught that a mech designer should never be a full-time researcher. They needed to stay in touch with practice by designing mechs and selling them. Only through delivering finished products would mech designers be able to stay true to mechs.
"I think the most difficult skill a mech designer isn't their design ability or their learning ability. It's not their ability to be responsive to the market or fabricate a mech without faults."
A mech designer still had to be good at those, but at their core all of those skills depended on one of the most basic ones of all.
"No. The most difficult skill by far is self-control."