Chapter 21: Cladding
Ves lacked a room full of processors ready to solve any problems by brute force, but the Mech Designer System came with its own perks. The Designer offered a number of simulations that showed how certain sections responded to laser fire or other types of damage. It simulated a mechapos;s maximum capacity for damage. It also had a tool that showed how to disable the mech with the least amount of effort.
Using these aids saved Ves a lot of effort. Together with his newly gained Mediumweight Armor Optimization I sub-skill, he felt competent enough to start his job as an armorer. Rather than copying Jasonapos;s armor contours, Ves decided to remove most of it and start from the bare minimum, only keeping the ingenious ways Jason and his helpers kept the joints protected.
He started with the legs. For mechs, legs not only provided movement, they made sure the mech stayed stable. While the mechapos;s engines devoted most of its power to supporting the legs, the limbs had to bear the entire mechapos;s weight in addition to its own armor. The mechapos;s legs were absolutely crucial to a mechapos;s operation. Crippling even one of them might immobilize a mech, effectively achieving the same results as killing it. Protecting the legs was a top priority.
The Caesar Augustus enjoyed luxurious armor on its legs. National Aeromotives knew their business when they developed its proprietary armor. It offered excellent protection at a decent weight. Now Ves somehow had to keep his Marc Antonyapos;s legs protected while not piling up too much armor. Excessive bulk reduced a mechapos;s flexibility and speed.
quot;The Marc Antony is a spear that breaks through obstacles. It needs mobility more than armor. The legs has to facilitate a charge. It doesnapos;t need to be excessively nimble. The Antony doesnapos;t pretend to be a light mech in that regard.quot;
The Marc Antony featured slightly thicker armor, especially on its front axis. While it made the legs vulnerable to crippling strikes from the rear, it could take about 75% of a beating the base modelapos;s legs could endure. This was already very generous considering the enormous differences in price between Vesapos; newly acquired HRF and the original armor plating.
Next came the torso. The core of any mech, it features by far the most space for its systems. The cockpit, power reactor and engines all resided in the torso. This placed unparalleled importance on its protection, especially with regards to shielding the pilot inside.
Mechs were expensive, but potentates were rarer. Only 3.5% of the total population of humans possessed the potential to pilot a mech, but not everyone of them actively pursued a military career. Mechs could be gained fairly easy by spending enough credits, but pilots represented a limited resource that replenished slowly. Thus most countries treated pilots like gold but mechs like silver. The armor schemes of most mechs reflected this demand, making it the thickest part of their armor.
In keeping up with the Marc Antonyapos;s indomitable intent, Ves became bold when working on the torso. He pursued aggressive lines that largely mirrored Jasonapos;s own scheme, but added more bulk to the lower torso and shaved a bit of armor from the upper torso.
Another route was to embed weapons in the wrists. Usually smaller and less powerful than handheld weapons, it kept the arms free to wield weapons while simultaneously offered additional firepower without detrimentally affecting weight and carrying capacity all that much. However, such weapons systems needed to be fed energy or other resources from the torso. Accommodating these needs weakened the arms internally and created more weak points. The wrist-mounted weapons also unbalanced the arms and made hand-mounted weaponry less accurate.
The shield turned out to be incredibly heavy and was difficult to move, but it also covered a lot more area so it didnapos;t need to. Made entirely out of cheap HRF plating, pilots wouldnapos;t feel any heartache when they threw it away if it sustained too much damage or if the mech required a burst of speed. Ves was highly satisfied with the end result. The big rectangular shield fit heavy infantrymen more than cavalry, but Ves didnapos;t bother reconciling these contradictions. He only borrowed the Ancient Roman theme to make his mech look cooler.
As for the weapon, the HRF was distinctly unsuited to serve as a sword material. Its composition focused fully on frontal protection, and couldnapos;t retain an edge suitable for bladed weaponry. It also broke much easier when struck hard. Heapos;d either have to change to a different weapon or keep the arm empty.
quot;The HRF only excels at cost.quot;
Ves took the same approach as with the shield. He bulked up the mechapos;s weapon and didnapos;t bother adding any edge. He eventually ended up with a short mace with a bulky rounded end. Since the mech already carried quite a bit of weight from its armor and shield, Ves hadnapos;t opted for something larger like a hammer or staff. Despite the maceapos;s simple looks, it still dealt a fair bit of damage if the pilot put its weight behind its attacks.
quot;It kind of sucks. Too bad I canapos;t afford another production license.quot;
Even the virtual licenses cost too many credits for Ves to bother buying them. He had to hoard money for now in preparation for producing a real mech.
Only the head remained now. In modern mechs, the head housed the best sensors of a mech. It was a rather poor position for something so important. It stuck out too much. However, most humanoid mechs retained the head due to pilots massively preferring their main view to come from such an elevated position. Mechs that hadnapos;t bothered with heads and moved their main sensors to the torso, the so-called apos;Panguapos; types, never really caught on in the market.
The Caesar Augustus featured an ornate head design that appealed to Jasonapos;s aesthetics. It housed fairly good sensors behind enough armor and embellishments to make them difficult to pick off by a stray shot. Ves hadnapos;t messed around with the head too much, but he did add a dramatic touch by adding a vertical helmet crest, much like the cool helmets worn by the soldiers of Ancient Rome and Greece.
For its plume, Ves embedded the small Festive Cloud Generator at its neck. With some creative plumbing, he ensured the cloud generatorapos;s red vapor to erupt from the head crest in an even fashion. He put enough power in the ejection of vapor that it held onto its semicircular shape in the wind even if the mech moved around.
Having finished working on the exterior, Ves stepped back and beheld the entire mech. It matched what Ves envisioned for the Marc Antony. A medium mech carrying a heavy shield to facilitate its tendency for head-on and charges and collisions. Discarding the shield allowed the mech to regain its mobility, enhancing its maneuverability in melee combat and leaving a hand free for a spare pistol or knife.
Despite the long hours of fiddling with armor plates and figuring out the best arrangements, Ves enjoyed the entire process with the enthusiasm of a kid trying a new toy. The Designerapos;s many tools allowed him to waste less time with boring calculations, leaving him more time to utilize his sharpened creativity to come up with aggressive designs. His work culminated in a mech that embodied Vesapos; intent of aggression, momentum, burst power and a little bit of flamboyance.
Whilst Ves expected the armoring process to be the most challenging job, his method of channeling his intent while he made his designs paid off. He was sure that others could have done a much better job, but he did a decent enough attempt that he could confidently say he hadnapos;t wasted his time.
quot;Now, itapos;s time to revisit the internals.quot;
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