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This was the first time that Ves truly felt that the expert mech design projects deserved to be treated differently than ordinary mechs.
Up until this point, much of his current work did not differ that much from his regular mech design projects. He just felt like designing some really fancy custom mechs.
The best way to describe his lack of awe towards his current projects was that it was just one step higher from designing his prime mechs. Though Ves appreciated the current mechs of his expert pilots a lot, he couldn't deny that they fell far short of what expert pilots deserved to depend upon in battle.
Ves realized that a void had quietly grown in his heart ever since he embarked on the current round of projects. This empty feeling may have caused him to act less steady than usual.
Perhaps this explained why he pushed so much against Gloriana's strict planning. His desire to match or exceed the grandeur of all of the other expert mechs he had witnessed in battle prompted him to explore radical options.
This was his usual solution whenever he felt his mech designs were lacking!
He put a lot of effort into coming up with unconventional but powerful upgrades such as mounted wargear and enhanced luminar crystals. These were the solutions that helped him fill up the void in his heart and make the Chimera Project and Sentry Project more palatable in his eyes.
At this moment, Ves began to doubt whether he should have worked so hard in the first place.
When Master Willix presented one dazzling resonating exotic after another, he felt that the usage of all of these amazing materials overshadowed all of his efforts.
He inwardly shook his head. That wasn't completely true. While he had to admit that resonating exotics did indeed possess the spark that transform expert mechs into brilliant combat assets, they were not all-powerful.
For one, they only worked when the expert pilot in question actively resonated with the new materials. This was a strenuous task and one that only became harder when the resonating material became more potent and powerful.
There was always a price. No resonating exotic could deliver great power without input to power its effects.
That power mainly came from the extraordinary qualities of an expert pilot. Yet no matter how powerful a demigod had become, the power they could exert had limits. They were not perpetual motion machines nor unable to violate the law of conservation of energy.
As long as these conditions were in place, resonance abilities would always be costly to employ!
In most cases, expert pilots were better off reserving the power granted by resonating exotics against other expert mechs and powerful opponents.
Against a large number of regular enemies, it was better to rely on the more ordinary properties of their expert mechs. This was where powerful systems and components could make a substantial difference.
Besides, the base performance of the expert mech also affected the power of resonance abilities. A cheap and badly-designed machine would not be able to produce a lot of output. This was why the mech community obsessed a lot about the mech designers in charge of designing expert mechs.
It was always best to have a Master or a team of Masters in charge of these crucial projects!
"…In short, opticonium is a resonating alloy that suits an immobile rifleman mech better. If the Sentry Project is designed as a more traditional mobile mid-ranged combatant, then it wouldn't need to bend its attacks, as it always enjoys the option to relocate so that it can attack the enemy at a more favorable angle. Since this is not the case, the opticonium will provide greater value than a more basic amplification in attack power."
Master Willix had just given the four Journeymen of the Larkinson Clan a crash course on the bizarre but incredibly useful effects of opticonium.
Though Ves felt a bit uncomfortable that choosing this key resonating material over others would forgo the opportunity to increase the impact of Venerable Stark's expert mech, he understood the underlying logic.
Mechs and other hardy targets were far harder to take down when attacked from the front. Every mech designer designed their machines in a way that allowed them to fight with great effectiveness when facing a single and ideal direction.
In order to strengthen their frontal performance, some sacrifices had to be made when it came to fending off attacks from the flanks and especially the rear.
If the Sentry Project could curve its beam attacks so that it could attack the sides of any mech, even an expert mech, then the effective damage it could deal would be significantly greater than just firing off an attack that was twice as strong to the front of a target!
"What is the second key exotic that you have selected for the Sentry Project?" Gloriana attentively asked.
Ves could already make some guesses. From what he saw before, powerful resonating materials generally didn't go along too well with each other. The best way to minimize any potential interference or unstable interactions was to place them as far away as possible.
This was why a typical offensive and defensive arrangement worked so well. By putting one key resonating material in the torso of a mech and the other one in the external weapon would put them far away enough to minimize some of the negative consequences.
Master Willix didn't disappoint this time. She lifted her finger, causing the projection to switch to a display of the preliminary version of the internal architecture of the Sentry Project.
"Since the Sentry Project forgoes defense solutions in favor of strengthening its offensive capabilities, it makes sense to find another solution to increase its damage output. Upgrading the power reactor and the power management system is a popular choice because increasing the absolute power of any mech is a solution that always works. Electricium Secundus is a suitable choice to amplify the performance of the power reactor."
Electricium Secundus was another artificial resonating alloy. It actually belonged to a series of similar materials as Electricium Tertius was cheap enough to be used in third-class expert mechs while Electricium Primus was powerful enough to be used in first-class expert mechs.
The effects of Electricium Secundus were rather simple. It directly increased the energy output of a power reactor without significantly increasing the amount of input. It was actually quite remarkable how this resonating alloy was able to convert resonance strength into a more usable form of energy for mechs.
An expert mech that made use of Electricium Secundus also didn't have to worry about frying the mech from the inside due to vastly exceeding the amount of energy it could channel. Integrating just a bit of Electricium Secundus into the energy transmissions systems vastly increased their tolerance.
Ves was happy that the Sentry Project would be able to pour greater power into a shot after all. Combining Electricium Secundus with Opticonium would result in an expert mech that could function as a supreme sniping machine!
However, the use of Electricium Secundus also came with a major downside. Since this resonating alloy not only had to be integrated in the power reactor, but also laced in the energy transmission systems that was supposed to direct all of the amplified energy to the rifle of the expert mech, there wasn't much room for any other resonating exotic!
At the very least, committing to Electricium Secundus meant ruling out the use of defensive resonating materials that would also have to be integrated in the frame of the expert mech.
Neither Ves nor Gloriana spoke a word of complaint about this, though. They had already set a distinct design direction for the Sentry Project. Master Willix merely presented resonating materials that matched their goals.
Once she finished explaining her choices for the Sentry Project, Master Willix moved on to the final expert mech design project.
"I saved the Bulwark Project for last because I intend to do something different for this special expert mech." She spoke as she commanded the projection to display the planned expert mech revision of the Shield of Samar. "Expert space knights are not unheard of, but it is rare to see one of this size and stature."
That was because it was a stupid concept in space, at least according to Ves. They were too immobile and their defensive capabilities covered a tiny area. The mismatch in scale was simply too big for heavy space knights to make any sense!
Master Willix observed the expressions of the Journeymen carefully. Not even Gloriana was able to exude much confidence even if she chose to fulfill Venerable Jannzi's vision.
"I know what you are thinking. Under ordinary circumstances, your doubts may have merit, but have you forgotten what kind of project you are working on? Expert mechs are different from standard mechs. It seems that you have not yet adjusted your mentality sufficiently enough."
"What do you have in mind for the Bulwark Project, ma'am?" Ves tentatively asked.
He sensed that the Master Mech Designer had subtly changed her demeanor. This meant that there had to be something special with the expert mech that she was currently addressing.
Master Willix smiled. "Do you recall my specialization?"
"It has something to do with gravity systems." He answered.
He would never forget something as crucial as this! It was just that Ves didn't really notice anything related to gravity systems whenever he interacted with the MTA Master. As a rational mech designer, Master Willix dabbled in many other design philosophies, so she tended to be neutral whenever there wasn't any need to do anything special.
This time was different, though. A hint of enthusiasm appeared on her face as she pointed at the frame of the future version of the Shield of Samar.
"The Bulwark Project's main shortcomings are painfully obvious. Any melee mech can bypass it and attack more vulnerable targets instead. This is not a unique problem for defensive mechs. Many people have developed different solutions that can address this problem. From arming them with chains to imparting them with powerful mobility, expert mechs do not have to abide by the traditional rules that limit the practicality of standard mechs."
"We know that, ma'am."
"What if I tell you that I have developed a solution to this sort of problem as well?"
Master Willix smiled wider. "In the past, I developed a resonating alloy in cooperation with others. When this material is integrated in the frame of an expert mech, it can allow an expert mech to bend spacetime around it as if it is a singularity. All space in its vicinity will be curved so that it becomes much more difficult to bypass it. Not just mechs, but also projectiles will bend when subjected to the artificial gravity well generated by an expert mech integrated with GT-535."
In order to illustrate her point, she played a brief animation of the Bulwark Project if it was laced with GT-535. The expert mech glowed as violent but barely visible fluctuations appeared around it. Mechs that sought to fly past the relatively immobile defensive mech suddenly found that their straight path no longer brought them away.
Insead, they curved right towards the Shield of Samar!
Due to the strength of the gravity well generated by the indomitable expert mech, the trapped enemies didn't possess the power to pull themselves away from the attraction force.
In the end, they collided head-on against the tower shield of Jannzi's mech. The collision alone was enough to shatter these unfortunate mechs to pieces!
"This… this is amazing." Gloriana's eyes shone like stars. "This is everything I wanted for the Bulwark Project. This is a much better option than the alternatives I had in mind!"
Ves was still in shock at the display. The range of the resonance ability along with the strength of its attraction force was too exaggerated. The value of GT-535 should not be comparable to the other resonating materials that Master Willix had brought.
Perhaps she was not as impartial as he previously thought. Contrary to his impression of a rational mech designer, Master Willix was openly biased towards the Bulkwark Project!
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