The Mech Touch - Chapter 3955 Undeserving
Chapter 3955 Undeserving
The graduation assignments that Ves handed over to his students were anything but normal.
Their difficulty was hellish!
Different schools and different teachers adopted different approaches towards graduation assignments. Some treated them as ordinary exams. Others approached them as previews of what mech designers needed to face in the real mech industry.
Ves did not want this to be a forgettable test for his students. He held high expectations for the two kids, but that also meant he was considerably afraid that they would squander their opportunities once they started their careers!
Obviously, Maikel and Zanthar did not look as if they realized that this was for their own good. The difficulty of their assignments was so formidable that they had to put a lot of time and effort into their first independently designed mech designs.
Even then, the chances of passing the actual tests were not that high!
This was because their solo works had to be put to the test by dueling an actual combat mech!
Having hung around the design labs a lot of times, the Larkinson seeds learned a lot from the mech designers working over there. They heard many stories and gained many insights about the clan’s existing mech designs.
Since the Bright Warrior was pretty much the default mech model of the Larkinson Clan, Maikel and Zanthar possessed a good understanding of most of the properties of this versatile modular mech platform!
Although the Bright Warrior Mark I Version B was beginning to show its age, it was still a mech designed by the clan patriarch and his wife, the best and most synergistic pair of Journeymen in the Design Department.
The Bright Warrior might not possess any pronounced strengths, but it did not have any glaring weaknesses either. It was a hard mech for opponents to exploit because it was just so rounded and balanced.
It was also an easy mech to get started with. Ves and Gloriana designed it with universal compatibility in mind, so even the weirdest mech pilots could achieve at least a basic degree of combat effectiveness after completing a few practice runs.
Since the Bright Warrior was such a solid and reliable Larkinson mech, it could only be defeated through straightforward means.
Ves already mentioned that the mech pilots assigned to the dueling mechs would both be ordinary Living Sentinel mech pilots, so differences in skill, experience and handling could be ignored.
The true key was to design a mech, or battle bot in the case of Maikel, that performed well enough to achieve victory in the arena!
Even if Maikel and Zanthar received a generous handicap of having twice the design budget of the Bright Warrior at their disposal, their faces still remained ugly.
Their design skills were still immature and their experience in developing mechs was woefully short!
Aside from completing many different design exercises that mostly pertained to specific sections of a mech, they rarely designed a whole machine from beginning to end.
The few times they did, the mechs that they completed performed well below the standards of works of Apprentices, let alone Journeymen!
The gap in quality, performance, utilization, optimization and other factors was quite big at the lower ranks of mech design.
While there were also gaps between Journeymen, Seniors, Masters and so on, high-ranking mech designers already mastered their basics to a degree where the differences had become more nuanced.
This was why having twice as much money was not necessarily enough for the mech design students!
Both of them understood this situation, and so did Ves.
“Are you dissatisfied?” Ves asked the pair as he exerted even more pressure. “Do you think that you are being treated unfairly?”
The two knew better than to respond to these questions.
Ves crossed his arms. “Welcome to the mech industry. When you finally get thrown into this sector, you will realize that the happy little world you have been living in for so long is a false reality. Out here in the real industry, no one will hold your hand anymore. No one will push you to improve your work and develop your design philosophies except yourselves.”
Once the Larkinson seeds graduated from their studies, they became full-fledged professionals who needed to make their own decisions in life.
Ves no longer assumed as much responsibility over them. Even if he wanted to guide Maikel and Zanthar further, he knew that it was counterproductive to their development.
All of the great mech designers earned their achievements by relying on their own passion and efforts!
There were no shortcuts to becoming a celebrated mech designer. Good teachers and expert guidance could only get them so far. Maikel and Zanthar needed to understand that they needed to push themselves in order to fulfill their own ambitions.
“The life of a mech designer is one that is characterized by work, lots of work. Before you succeed in designing mechs that are good enough to sell at least a thousand copies, you can forget about maintaining a healthy work-life balance.” Ves continued. “Every day, you need to make a choice between going out on a night of clubbing or putting in long hours of revising advanced textbooks. If you don’t show up at the design lab and put in long hours often enough, then you can forget about advancing to the rank of Journeyman Mech Designer before your thirtieth birthday. Compared to the hardships that I have just described, is it really a big deal to pass your difficult graduation assignments?”
Maikel grimaced. “Teacher… I am willing to accept any challenge in order to prove my worth, but isn’t this going too far? How can I design a complete battle AI that is good enough to fight against an actual mech pilot that attended several mech academies for at least 15 years? I barely know anything about piloting mechs myself! Besides, you haven’t specified which configuration the Bright Warrior that my battle bot is supposed to duel against.”
Ves snorted. “Do you expect me to tell you the configuration of the Bright Warrior that you are supposed to fight against in advance?”
“Real encounters against enemy forces never go as you wish, Maikel. People like us design mechs that might be good at defeating certain mech types, but there are times when our work is forced to fight against machines that can counter our efforts. Uncertainty is a factor that every mech designer and mech force has to manage. If I tell you that your battle bot has to fight against a Bright Warrior in a space knight configuration, then I am sure that you will design the most extreme lancer mech driven by a narrow AI that can only defeat slower and heavier enemies in a monotonous fashion. That is too simple of a test. No, I will not tell you the exact opponent that your work needs to fight against, because the outside reality will never be nice enough to give you the same advantages.”
This meant that Maikel needed to design a more balanced battle bot that was versatile enough to fight against several different mech types. The workload and design challenges were greater as a result because it was a lot harder to design an all-round battle machine with higher performance levels!
“What about me, sir?” Zanthar asked.
“The same applies to you. Did you think I would be nice enough to give you a guaranteed mirror match?” Ves maliciously chuckled. “Rifleman mechs don’t always get to stay in the back while they leisurely pick off distant opponents. Sometimes, light skirmishers sneak up on them and lancer mechs charge straight at their positions. If you want to build a career out of designing ranged mechs armed with powerful energy weapons, then you need to show to everyone that your solutions are good enough to handle a wide variety of different opponents.”
Zanthar looked just as glum as Maikel. It took different approaches to defeat different mech types. Needing to account for multiple of them meant that the aspiring luminar crystal specialist needed to make a lot of compromises to his rifleman mech design. It became a lot harder to reach higher performance levels as a consequence!
“Teacher, how much time do we have to complete our assignments?” Maikel asked another important question.
“A year. That is plenty enough time for the two of you to study additional textbooks, learn from mech pilots, conduct your own research and iterate on your mech designs.”
The pair of mech design students finally eased up a bit. A year of time was not too crazy.
Ves settled on this deadline in order to account for the relatively slow design pace of his students. They were lacking in experience and hadn’t fully mastered their knowledge yet. It was unrealistic to expect Maikel and Zanthar to work as fast and efficiently as real Apprentices or Journeymen.
Second-class mech were also a lot more difficult and time-consuming to design than the third-class mechs that Ves started with. The assignments also prohibited variants and any instances of borrowing from existing mech designs, so the Larkinson seeds had to start from scratch!
All in all, a year might not be enough for both of them to complete all of the steps they needed to take in order to design powerful enough machines!
“Do you know why I am making you complete these difficult assignments?”
Neither of the pair knew the answer.
“It’s because the two of you don’t deserve the treatment that you have gotten.” Ves stated, shocking them both. “Our clan invested a lot of funding, resources and time in raising you to this point. Think about all of the lessons you’ve received, the textbooks you were able to study and the insights you’ve gained from spending time in design labs and workshops. Compared to students who attend mech design universities, the treatment that we have granted you is almost as good as the direct disciples of Master Mech Designers. The problem is that your starting qualifications are nowhere near as good as the likes of those talents.”
“What does that have to do with our graduation assignments, patriarch?”
Ves disappointedly shook his head. “The fact that you can’t figure that out shows that you are still lacking in awareness. To me, the two of you are just lucky third-rate brats who happened to receive luxurious study opportunities because you happened to possess the right bloodline. If the two of you weren’t members of the Larkinson Family by the time I initially rose to success, you would have never been put under my wing.”
His original commitment to the Larkinson Family was no longer valid! From the moment he split from the old family, he was no longer obliged to raise Maikel and Zanthar into excellent mech designers. The only reasons why Ves continued to do so was because of his professionalism and his obligations as a teacher.
“Times have changed. Do you know what kind of talents have sent their resumes to me while begging me to teach my secrets to them? They’re all second-raters who have either attended an elite university or graduated from them. A few even come from mech designer families where they learned the fundamentals of mech design in their early teens! Together with their formidable augments, their talent and their starting qualifications are at least thrice as good as yours. That means that if I invested the same amount of time and resources into raising them, they would have been Novices or Apprentices by now who are already proficient in designing original mechs!”
What the patriarch said was all true.
Before they studied under Ves, neither of them were heaven-blessed geniuses or elite students with top academic results. Their qualifications were just average in the greater scheme of things.
Their self-worth took a substantial hit from Ves’ incisive words.
“Frankly speaking, our clan squandered way too much money and other resources into your study programs. The talents you have shown and the academic results you have achieved are not proportionate to the opportunities we have provided to you. Look at Ketis, for example. Her circumstances are much different than yours, but compared to how much I invested into mentoring her, she has already become a talented Journeyman with extremely bright prospects ahead of her. She is already showing signs that she is capable of earning back my investment many times over!”
The Monster Slayer model was already picking up momentum through the Wild Fighter Association’s sales channels.
Once Ketis truly got going, her product catalog would probably earn enough money to cover the Larkinson Clan’s annual expenses in a few years!
The question now was whether Maikel and Zanthar were able to get close to this level.
Ves didn’t even know if the pair were capable of paying back their student debts!