The Mech Touch

Iridescent Mercury


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The Chimera Project's main theme centered around adaptability and versatility. It did not explicitly aim to be the 'best' at anything.

However, it would be nice if it was able to excel at something. Increasing its damage-absorbing capabilities by pairing it up with Fixer Iron was a good choice. Though the resonating exotic did not excite Ves and Gloriana all that much, it paired well with Venerable Joshua's domain and was easy to integrate in his upcoming expert mech.

Increasing its defenses was not enough, though. An expert mech almost always needed offensive enhancements as well. It was a waste of an expert mech and expert pilot if their vast potential wasn't channeled into an offensive direction!

Master Willix did not immediately reveal her selection for offense-oriented resonating exotic. She merely smiled and asked a question.

"How do you envision the Chimera Project on the battlefield? What kind of role should Venerable Joshua adopt?"

Ves thought long and hard about these questions, and so did Gloriana.. While their views diverged from each other, they still found a lot of common ground.

Since Ves was more passionate about Venerable Joshua's expert mech than his wife, he decided to answer this question.

"Venerable Joshua is a versatile mech pilot, ma'am. When paired with a versatile mech, he can function as a troubleshooter. In other words, he can shore up any weaknesses in our lineup, rescue any troubled units or add some extra strength to any important actions we might attempt on the battlefield."

"What should he and his expert mech excel at aside from the basics you have mentioned? Think beyond the technical and think strategically instead."

Master Willix was obviously hinting at something greater. When Ves did as he was told and pulled back his perspective, he envisioned a large battlefield in space where thousands if not tens of thousands of mechs grinded against each other.

The greater the amount of mechs, the greater the amount of confusion. The role of individual mechs and mech pilots became smaller and even expert mechs would find it hard to change the overall strategic outlook of a huge battle.

However… was this really the case?

A few thoughts flashed through his mind. He had become involved in many instances where a single individual managed to change the course of a major battle.

Outside of rare and unpredictable breakthroughs, the role of leaders gained more weight as battles grew larger. This was something that was becoming more and more relevant to the Larkinson Clan as its mech forces expanded into the thousands.

At this scale, the qualities of regular fighters became less impactful but the qualities of the senior officers became more pivotal!

A good commander was able to stabilize a battleline that was under heavy assault. A poor commander could easily cause it to collapse ahead of time.

The role of higher-ranking leaders such as Ves and General Verle became even more evident. Though most of their influence affected the military wing of the Larkinson Clan when it was out of combat, they still performed essential functions during a battle. Whether it was boosting morale, issuing broad commands, responding to enemy maneuvers and so on, the mech pilots of the Larkinson Clan all looked up to their leaders for hope, instruction and more!

It was as if a mech suddenly turned online in his mind. The hint provided by Master Willix allowed Ves to recognize the most suitable role for Venerable Joshua.

<

"Venerable Joshua has always been the most likeable expert pilot in our current roster." He noted. "He doesn't possess any significant leadership qualities, but he is able to befriend everyone regardless of their individual beliefs. From the Penitent Sisters to the Ylvainans, Joshua has earned great respect from all of them due to his amiability and ability to pilot their signature mechs. He is the standard bearer of the Larkinson Clan."

He could already picture how Venerable Joshua made his mark on the battlefield. His large, imposing mech would shine bright and deliberately attract attention. Whether it stayed in the rear and launched precision attacks on critical enemy machines or charged forward in order to lead an assault, all of his actions would be magnified to those who were able to view or track his actions.

While any other expert mech could fulfill this role as well, none of them were quite as suitable.

The Bulwark

Project was too slow and would only be able to provide encouragement from the rear.

The Sentry Project was too passive and did not fight in an ostentatious manner.

The Disruptor Project was too fleeting and functioned best when operating far from other friendly units.

The Decapitator Project and Vanguard Project were too offense-oriented and lacked broad appeal.

Compared to all of these choices, only the Chimera Project possessed the balance and versatility to function well in any place on the battlefield!

"You understand now, do you?" Master Willix smiled.

Ves took a deep breath. "I do. We chose to design a hero mech for Venerable Joshua in order to make the best use out of his broad skill set. Yet we did not think sufficiently about what kind of role that he and his expert mech could really play. I get it now. Hero mechs might not be the most efficient or effective mech type we could choose from, but it is the iconic kind of mech to inspire other soldiers in battle!"

Hero mechs were called this way for a reason! Ves had explored this mech type extensively in the past. From the Ouroboros to the Transcendent Messenger, the few hero mechs that Ves designed had all become iconic standard bearers whose symbolic value surpassed their combat value!

Adding such an expert mech to the Larkinson Clan's lineup made a lot of sense as well. One of the core doctrines was psychological warfare. According to this school of thought, the Larkinsons should do their best to increase their own morale while damaging the morale of their opponents.

Venerable Joshua and his hero expert mech were very well suited to accomplish both objectives!

As Ves thought about orienting the Chimera Project in this direction, Gloriana began to frown.

"Master Willix, what does this have to do with the second resonating exotic that you have selected for the Chimera Project? Did you select something that isn't capable of enhancing the offensive power of this expert mech?"

"There are many solutions to increase the attack power of your expert pilot, Miss Wodin. The selection of enhancing options should fit the role and needs of the expert mech, not the other way around. I have vast experience in judging and determining the roles of expert mechs. In my judgement, the Decapitator Project, Vanguard Project and Sentry Project can already provide you with strong attacks. Instead of trying to force the Chimera Project to keep up in an area it doesn't excel at, it is much more fitting to enhance one of its strong points."

<

The Master Mech Designer no longer kept everyone in suspense. She switched the projection to display a light and delicate looking substance.

"This is Iridescent Mercury. It is a mercury-like exotic that is fairly rare but does not see much use as a resonating exotic."

Why is that, ma'am?"

"Its perceived combat value is too low in the eyes of most people." Willix simply responded. "This is because it doesn't directly enhance any solid combat parameters. When an expert pilot resonates with an expert mech that is laced with Iridescent Mercury, it becomes more noticeable and harder to ignore."

This sounded quite useful, but there had to be a downside to it, or else Master Willix wouldn't have mentioned that it was rarely used.

"What's the catch?"

"It's compatibility with other resonating exotics is not good." She said. "One of the reasons why Fixer Iron is stocked in every star sector is because it has low resonance interference. It either plays well or does not inhibit the performance of other resonating exotics. In comparison, Iridescent Mercury is a lot more difficult to pair with other materials. If you commit to using this resonating exotic, you will have to forgo many other powerful alternatives. You can only add weaker resonating exotics or none at all when you make use of this special material."

What Master Willix basically stated was that committing to the use of Iridescent Mercury came at a heavy price. Ves and Gloriana might have to settle with passing on the possibility of integrating a very powerful attack ability for the Chimera Project!

Suffice to say, Gloriana did not react well to this choice. Even though she respected Master Willix, that did not mean she blindly followed suit. As a classically educated mech designer who attended one of the best universities of the Hegemony, she was trained to form her own opinions even in the face of great authority figures!

"I do not doubt that Iridescent Mercury can add a useful function to the Chimera Project, Master Willix. However, it does not align with the expert mech's fundamental purpose. What we need the most are solutions against other expert mechs. The Komodo War as well as the Battle of Reckoning that we barely won has both showcased how disadvantageous it is to fight with less expert mechs than the enemy. We are confident that our regular forces can defeat the enemy's regular troops, so we do not particularly need to amplify the Chimera Project's ability to affect this lower-level struggle. What we truly need is to guarantee our chances against enemy expert mechs."

"Did I say that Iridescent Mercury is irrelevant in expert mech duels?"

"Huh?"

Both Gloriana and Ves looked nonplussed.

Master Willix let out a coy smile. "I may have been too busy to perform much research in your husband's design philosophy, but I did discover some notable interactions. Iridescent Mercury's main effect is rather limited under ordinary circumstances. However, according to my tests and calculations, it has a complimentary effect towards glows. If my theories are correct, it can drastically extend the effective range of the Chimera Project's glow to encompass several large formations."

"What kind of range are we talking about?" Ves cautiously asked.

"Kilometers. Maybe tens of kilometers."

"That much?!"

<

The effective range of an ordinary glow was much less! Unless Ves did something special like with the Valkyrie Redeemer, the glows of all of his mechs were only effective at melee range.

If Iridescent Mercury could truly extend the range of a glow, then the significance of the Chimera Project would drastically increase!

Ves was already starting to think if it was possible to debilitate thousands of mech pilots at once by integrating the glow of the Ferocious Piranha in this new superglow machine…

"Don't get too excited, Mr. Larkinson. My tests also show that the strength of the glow will substantially drop past its usual range."

"Damn." Ves cursed.

"While I admit that extending the range of glow to this extent can still be useful, at best it will free more of our regular mechs." Gloriana said.

"There is a second benefit to Iridescent Mercury that I have not mentioned yet. While it will weaken the strength of a glow past its normal range, it does the inverse at closer distances. At close distances, I predict that it can strengthen a glow beyond its usual level, even to the point of affecting an enemy expert pilot!"

"What?! Are you sure about that, ma'am!"

While Gloriana looked suitably astonished, only Ves knew full well what this possibility implied.

A glow that was strong enough to affect the rock-hard mental defenses of an expert pilot was absolutely remarkable! It could definitely swing the outcome of group battles between expert mechs as this advantage was not limited to affecting just a single individual.

Ves finally understood why Master Willix was willing to forgo other powerful enhancements in order to settle for Iridescent Mercury. This resonating exotic's effect was absolutely remarkable and one that synergized very well with both Venerable Joshua and the Chimera Project!

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