Chapter 1: Age of Mechs
It was not as if the introduction of mechs replaced other weapons of war. In the galactic war against the alien races that sought to wipe out humanity, warships and weapons of mass destruction still played an essential role.
Yet a nuclear bomb was too destructive if used against humans. Alien races could easily pick up a bargain if humanity constantly weakened themselves to settle internal grudges.
These pointless wars would only end when humanity united all of its separate fiefs. Many visionaries have attempted to do so, and succeeded, up to a point.
Peace never lasted.
The human race had an inborn tendency to fall apart. The grand enterprise of unity failed time and time again.
So people separated, still loosely allied by their common ancestral heritage, but with nothing else in common. Wars continued, but a complex web of treaties limited the destruction of essential war materiel. The human race stood a better chance of resisting alien incursions once it stopped destroying their own settlements and warships.
quot;Itapos;s all fine and dandy to conquer your neighborapos;s planet. At the very least, donapos;t bring out the big guns and please lease the expensive stuff in space intact.quot;
Not the best solution, but somehow humanity muddled through.
With the stagnation of naval battles, ground warfare took on new significance. Infantry, tanks and artillery enjoyed a resurgence of popularity as the fractious human race fought over their own territory.
Naturally, any invaders didnapos;t have it easy. Forced to operate on enemy soil, the conflicts often devolved into wars of attrition.
Even if the invaders painstakingly triumphed over their enemies, was it worth the effort? They would find out in dismay that they lost more money from their army than what they gained in territory.
Most of the warmongers realized that waging war was a money-losing business.
quot;Just as planned.quot; The pacifists thought as they patted their backs. The treaties had been extensively drafted for just such an outcome. Without the tools to threaten a planet into a quick surrender, the warmongers had to rely on old and inefficient technology in order to conquer territories.
It turned out the peace lovers celebrated too early.
Ever since the legendary Mack Liu first stepped on the battlefield with a giant humanoid machine called a apos;mechapos;, war had changed forever. It advanced into a whole new paradigm.
Able to perform ably in even the most inhospitable planets, the first mechs made a mockery of the slow-paced and static way of war of traditional armies.
quot;The human body is the best weapon of humans.quot; One of the lead inventors of the modern war mech remarked after the first models blitzed half a massive nationapos;s territory. quot;Everyone knows that infantry is flexible but fragile while tanks are tough but clumsy. So one day we thought, why not make a new weapon that takes the human form and simply scale it up?quot;
It resulted in a revolutionary weapon that charmed humans across the galaxy for its evocative look and inspiring capabilities.
Faster than infantry, more flexible than tanks and able to carry a variety of weapons, they nonetheless required much less supplies to keep them running. Their logistical footprint was a fraction of what a conventional army gobbled up. This alone ensured that mechs dethroned all other service branches.
quot;Iapos;m not a pilot. Iapos;m never going to be a pilot. All I really know is mechs. If I am never fated to pilot a mech, then I can still do something else. Iapos;m still a Larkinson. Mechs are in my blood.quot;
Ves narrowed his goals. If he couldnapos;t pilot a mech, then heapos;d be the one to make them.
In the Age of Mechs, a mech designer led the development of mechs. Just as crucial as mech pilots, they came up with innovative designs of mechs and shaped them into reality. Some of these designers were just as famous as the aces who achieved incredible feats with their mechs.
The workshop could use a makeover. The modular, prefabricated structure looked second hand, as if it was salvaged off a battlefield or scrap yard. With the amount of rust and scratches its exterior sported, it was a miracle it hadnapos;t fallen apart.
When Ves stepped inside, he sighed in relief. The essentials were still in one shape. The insides looked fairly clean. All of the valuable machines needed to run his enterprise were present, if second hand. His dad might not know his stuff, be he knew plenty of people who did.
quot;Where are you, dad?quot;
After weeks of silence, Ves had to face the fact that his dad was missing. That shouldnapos;t be a cause for alarm. His dad had been assigned to a regiment stationed at the border between the Bright Republic and the belligerent Vesia Kingdom. Any incidents that might flare up could cause his father to be recalled.
When Ves called his fatherapos;s friends, he found out he never returned to duty! After contacting the police, it seemed that Ryncol had never shown his face elsewhere. All the galactic calls and electronic messages sent to his father fell off a cliff. No one could find any trace of his presence.
The Cloudy Curtain Planetary Bank quickly came knocking. It turned out the workshop components such as the spiffy 3D printer had been bought with a loan. A 3D printer was an essential machine that turned raw materials into factory quality mech parts.
His father had to borrow over 330 million bright credits in order to finance the acquisition of assets. With this much money, anyone could buy half-a-dozen advanced mechs!
Ves could spend his lifetime working for an average mech manufacturer and still not earn enough to pay back the huge debt. He instantly fell into a cycle of distress and panic when he read through the bankapos;s polite but impersonal note.
quot;What kind of mess did my father drag me into?quot;
The bank took three pages to state that all of the debt was in his name. He would have to hand over the workshop and all of its valuable machinery in case he missed a single annual interest payment.
In short, Ves had to scrounge up about five million credits in the next three months in order to meet the next payment. He lifted up his armband-shaped communicator and activated its miniature projector. A screen came into view that displayed a menu. He hopelessly switched to the credit account linked to the device.
His account only held a measly twelve-hundred credits. That was his spending money for the month.
Ves had little means of earning the required amount of money. With his dad gone missing, it was questionable whether Ves was entitled to the life insurance and other benefits his father arranged. Ves followed up his fatherapos;s insurance policy because he needed every penny he could squeeze out of the system.
Nothing came out of the meetings. The insurance company was as obstinate as a dog chewing a bone.
Ves swiped away the latest messages from the bank. quot;Iapos;m broke. I canapos;t even scrounge up the credits to buy the raw materials I need to fabricate new parts. How am I suppose to do business?quot;
Within a day, he called the bank, the insurance company and the government. What he got back wasnapos;t good.
The bank had already written Ves off. They wanted to get their claws on the workshop before Ves screwed something up and depreciated its value. The only useful thing he received from the bank was a package that Ryncol stashed at the bank in case he got out of touch.
The insurance company claimed that Ryncol was merely missing in action at worst. As an active serviceman, he might return months or years later, so Ves was not entitled to a single penny until the company received solid proof that he had died. If not, the money would only be released after a period of five years.
The government was its usual bureaucratic self. Ves only heard lots of incomprehensible jargon before he plainly hung up. Heapos;d get nothing useful there.
Ves was alone.
His dad had gone off to the deep end, leaving Ves to pick up the pieces. His father only left him with a lousy package with a casual note pasted in front.
quot;To my son Ves, in case Iapos;m not home.quot;
Opening it up, Ves was mildly surprised to pick up a secure data chip. Most data transfers today occurred entirely wirelessly. People only used data chips when they absolutely had to keep their contents secure.
Ves turned off his commapos;s connection to the galactic net before accessing the old data chip.
It took three seconds to load its contents, which was unusually long for a chip this size. An unknown program suddenly took over the holographic projection.
quot;Initializing the Mech Designer System. New user detected. Initiating deep scan in 2400 minicycles. Please prepare properly.quot;
quot;Wait, what?quot; Ves asked the program, just before the comm released a huge shock. Ves passed out in an instant.
And so began his journey as a mech designer.
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