Chapter 31: Drake
Building a mech started with the internal frame. As the basic skeleton of the mech, it determined the mechapos;s shape, height, and weight capacity. A sturdy mech not only demanded strong armor, but also a robust internal frame that could hold up its weight under pressure.
There were many frames to choose from. Most adopted a standard humanoid shape of two arms, two legs and and upright posture. Some looked like cats, others like birds and reptiles. Each form had its advantages and disadvantages, but generally the humanoid mechs offered great balance as long as its two legs remained intact.
As Ves wanted to design a mech with flight capabilities, he chose to pick a medium frame that was on the lighter side. The frameapos;s construction featured a clever arrangement of gaps, hollows and grooves. It saved a lot of weight while keeping its structural integrity intact as much as possible, though not always succeeding. Nevertheless, the frame held up to stresses as long as it wasnapos;t used to heavily for years.
Fortunately, the contest also automatically supplied the compatible artificial musculature. Though for the best original designs, it was best to form it from scratch, the amount of time it took was immense compared to borrowing an existing design scheme.
Next up Ves considered the contour of the mech and the configuration of the limbs. Humanoid mechs differed widely in size, bulk, thickness and so on. While some designers preferred to complete the internals first before considering the exterior, Ves wanted to do the opposite in order to set his limits beforehand. He already had a purpose in mind for his mech, so it was important he get the outer appearance of the mech done first in order to make it easier for him to visualize his intentions.
quot;First up, the legs.quot;
As the mechapos;s base, the legs determined the machineapos;s speed, weight limit and stability. Humanoid mechs boasted a wide variety of legs, from ones that specialized in long-distance efficiency to those that came built-in with boosters to facilitate powerful jumps. Ves envisioned a mobile medium mech, so he kept his selection limited to the lighter armored legs. He patiently dug through the pile of junk for a suitable pair of leg design schemes.
quot;God, these legs are shit.quot; Ves muttered as he dropped the next pair of legs in disgust. Most legs he encountered were either light but frail, or sturdy but too heavy for his tastes. It was as if the organizers didnapos;t want contestants to settle for boring, mediocre legs with the most optimal compromise between armor and speed.
quot;Itapos;s impossible for me to pick a heavy pair of legs if I want my mech to be capable of at least a modicum of flight. I would either have to pick a pair of skinny legs, or...quot;
As Ves looked at the pile of animal-shaped legs, his newly upgraded jury rigging sub-skill tingled in excitement. Mech components and parts had always been designed to accommodate a certain level of modular compatibility, but Ves had seldom heard of cases where a designer attached animal legs to a humanoid upper body. Such things were possible, but it brought a lot of problems concerning reworking the musculature and making sure the mechapos;s walking and running posture remained balanced.
quot;Iapos;ll have to finish picking parts first.quot;
For the internals, his design called for prioritizing durability. It had to hold up even when the mech was being banged around a lot. He picked a powerful engine, one that provided lots of power at the cost of horrible energy efficiency. For the power reactor, he went for a slightly under-powered one, but it was the only one that left enough space for the engines within the mechapos;s internal structure.
In order to power the mech sufficiently for the entire gauntlet, Ves added in lots of capacitor energy cells for a quick boost of instant energy. The sensors he chose were some of the most durable ones available, meant for a heavy gorilla mech. They provided no guidance or targeting assistance, but their viewing range was decent and besides their toughness was almost as good as armor.
quot;That should do it for the basics.quot; Ves thought as he scanned the components again in order to make sure he hadnapos;t missed anything. quot;Iapos;ll look at weapons later.quot;
First, he had to put the basics together. First, he needed to make adjustments to the internal frame in order to accommodate the raptor legs. If Ves wanted to do it perfectly, heapos;d use the Mech Designer Systemapos;s many tools to redirect certain mechanical components in order to achieve a sideways attachment. Unfortunately, his comm was disabled, and even if it were not, heapos;d be stupid to reveal the System.
Only four hours remained after he finished putting together the limbs and the internals. The mech possessed the minimum qualifications to present itself as a complete machine, but it wouldnapos;t survive the gauntlet this bare.
The flight system came up next. Ves wanted his mech to be mobile in order to add to its options, but he didnapos;t want the wings to dominate the mech and burden it excessively. So he straightforwardly cut off major portions of the wings, especially the parts that extended too far from the back. It left the flight system looking clipped.
quot;I cut over sixty percent of the parts but still managed to retain thirty percent of its thrust.quot;
It was a fairly generous ratio, helped by the fact the manufacturers paid attention to this issue. Most wings that lost so much length only provided enough flight capability to allow the mech a controlled crash. The wings Ves was left with werenapos;t powerful, but they provided a sufficient amount of traversing speed, though he shouldnapos;t expect the wings to let the mech fly high.
Attaching the wings to the torso provided little trouble. Despite the fact that the torso wasnapos;t built for flying, it still possessed all the modular connectors that eased the fusion between the two parts. The flight system looked remarkably compact compared to the larger and heavier torso, but that was the image he was going for. The smaller the wings, the longer they stayed intact.
quot;It kind of looks like a dragon bred with a human who delivered this mech into the world.quot;
The raptor legs provided the mech with a lot of leg power and mobility while still able to bear a generous amount of weight. Together with the hefty torso and arms, the mechapos;s weight classification was approaching the upper limits of the medium standard, though it was not as bad as the Caesar Augustus and its variants. The wings provided enough thrust for the mech to help it move around as long as its weapon load-out wasnapos;t excessive.
The great thing about the junk pile was that Ves could pick the best weapons from it without worrying about licences and fabrication. He rummaged through the pile and found a fairly thin but serviceable sword. He added a pair of lightweight backup knives before picking up a medium-sized round shield for defense. This took care of the mechapos;s close-quarters combat needs.
The ranged options were bound to be trickier. The mech only had two arms, enough for it to carry the sword and shield. Heapos;d either have to resort to external add-ons, or force the mech to holster its unused weapons on its lower back, which did not offer much space due to the wings.
Ves also wanted the ranged option to be something other than an afterthought. Unfortunately, that was difficult if he wanted a weapon that could pack a punch while simultaneously keep the mech light enough to maintain its mobility. His experience with the Caesar Augustus and the Marc Antony taught him that a pair of mid-powered laser cannons did not kill opponents fast enough, so for a ranged option he also needed a weapon that packed a punch.
This was very difficult to deal with. As the time limit grew closer, Ves felt a little anxiety infect his mood, which he absolutely did not want. He took a small break from tinkering and refreshed his mind by having a small meal and taking care of his bathroom needs. Once he exited the toilets, he regained sufficient calm that he was able to focus on envisioning his desired mech again.
He thought up a bold idea when he took a leak. It would test his jury rigging as well has many of his other skills, but if it worked, the mech could gain a short-term ranged kill capability.
As ballistic weapons weighed too much and missile weapons lasted too short, Ves chose to take a pair of high powered laser rifles as his weapon of choice. The rifles the junk pile offered packed a lot of punch, but were prone to overheating and gobbled up energy like there was no tomorrow.
The first thing he did was strip their stock, optical sight and other useless doodads. Then he took a pile of light armor plating and crafted a rectangular shell around the rifle as protection. He then stuffed as much energy cells as possible within the casing, and linked it all to the rifle as its primary energy source.
He then took a pair of turreted ballistic cannons, cut off their swivels and crudely welded the armored laser cannons onto it. After that, he installed the slightly over-sized pair of boxes onto his new mechapos;s shoulders. The mech had reached its limits in terms of weight, but the shoulder-mounted laser rifles offered substantial firepower at a distance as long as they didnapos;t overheat.
Ves spent the remainder of the time refining the coordination between the different parts. He especially had to recheck the programming of the swivels, and made sure that it acted according to the characteristics of energy weapons instead of ballistic weaponry. As his strange, crude Frankenstein of a mech came into being, he attracted a fair amount of unflattering attention.
quot;Compared to the elegant lines of Patriciaapos;s mech, this boyapos;s work is a total mess.quot;
quot;I donapos;t know why he even bothers with the runty wings. Itapos;s not like the mechapos;s going to fly in the first place with all that weight.quot;
Ves took no notice of the jeers. He knew his mech better than anyone else. The mech would work as advertised, at least for the duration of the gauntlet. Alongside its formation, Ves tried to keep his intent focused on one single concept, and he felt he did a decent job with all the limitations surrounding this contest. He wasnapos;t able to fabricate the parts by hand, and most of them were also designed for mechs fulfilling different purposes. Such a disparate gathering of parts might even nullify the X-Factor entirely.
quot;Iapos;m taking a big gamble here, but Iapos;m confident Iapos;m not wrong in taking this route.quot;
His strange mech married a humanoid upper form with a pair of raptor legs and some limited flight capabilities, so he named it the Drake. The mech carried his hopes of a victory in the qualifiers, and therefore allow him to come up to the big stage tomorrow where he could gather plenty of attention. Enough to attract a customer, Ves hoped.
quot;Time is almost up. Please finalize your designs.quot;
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