The Greater Terran United Confederation was the latest manifestation of the oldest continuous state in human civilization. Although the names might change, the humans who looked up to the ancestry of Old Earth always referred to themselves as Terrans.
As one might expect, Terrans thought highly of themselves. Old Earth was the original birthplace of mankind and even in the Age of Mechs it continued to play a pivotal role as one of the most important cultural institutions of the human race.
The stuck-up ancient clans that ruled at the top were so oppressive and insufferable that at some point during the Age of Conquest, a large amount of colonies rose up in rebellion!
Suffice to say, a lot of non-Earth humans hated the Terran elites and were just waiting for a moment to shake loose from their rule!
While the Terrans managed to suppress most of the uprisings in time using their awesome military might, the cowardly Terran leaders kept too many warships close to home. This afforded some of the more powerful rebellious colonies situated further away from Old Earth precious time to establish themselves!
By the time the conservative Terrans finally realized what their cautious defensive and reactive stance had wrought, the New Rubarth Empire already came into existence!
Ever since then, the Terrans needed to contend with the new kid on the block.
Having unshackled themselves from the stuffy Terrans, the newly-emerged Rubarthans quickly caught up and overtook their old masters! The bold and daring reforms they implemented through every layer of their society enabled the Rubarthans to become incredibly productive!
Seeing the Rubarthans rise up and take over the crown that rightfully belonged to the original birthplace of mankind, the Greater Terran United Confederation tentatively reformed their own society.
They had no choice! If they continued to stick to the old ways that led to most of their far-flung colonies rising up in arms, the Terrans would continue to decline!
In the end, while the Terrans implemented a lot of decent reforms, the ancient clans were far too unwilling to enable others to challenge their oligopoly on power. Many outside observers considered their reforms to be too half-hearted. Many of the same inefficiencies and excesses that plagued the old Terrans still existed in modern times.
This was why most of the galaxy considered the New Rubarth Empire to be the new standard bearers of humanity. Other than the Big Two, most of human space now looked up to the Rubarthans for leadership.
Ves always thought that the weakness of the Greater Terran United Confederation had always been overstated. Much of the galaxy became so inured in the wide reach of pro-Rubarthan influences that they completely disregarded the fact that the Confederation was still a first-rate superstate!
Yet now that the System forcefully inserted his consciousness in the mind of a decadent junkie like Axelar Streon, he began to think the Rubarthans may had a point!
Axelar possessed so much talent and ability, but he squandered it all!
Just the a-la-carte automatic mech design service he had access was an incredibly powerful tool in the right hands! Ves had never seen a layman put together a mech so easily!
In the right hands, a mech pilot would be able to use the auto designer to pick and choose the properties of a mech from the ground up!
This was incredibly valuable because a mech pilot would not be stuck with the same strengths and weaknesses of their existing mechs. A mech pilot who used an auto designer to their full potential would be able to put together a mech that precisely countered the opposition!
Combined with materialization technology that could faithfully reproduce any mech design down to the atom, then the power and versatility at Axelar's disposal should have been enough for him to dominate
Yet what did Axelar do with all of this power?
He just picked and chose random components and let the AIs mash them together without any regard for fit and synergy!
Ves was vaguely able to determine the date from some of the tech he witnessed in the auto designer's catalog. He estimated that the System sent him back at least ninety years this time.
Even then, most of the high technology at Axelar's disposal astounded him! Even though this junkie probably hadn't been coherent enough to know what he was putting in his own mech, the parts he selected all cost a fortune!
The mech that Axelar ended up with was technically a multipurpose mech. It featured half-a-dozen weapon systems, most of them integrated all over the torso and the head of the abomination the AIs produced.
Axelar only added a positron rifle and a Destroyer Sword out of force of habit.
The bloated hero mech that came out possessed arms unsuited for the weapons they carried, a targeting system that only worked well with heavy artillery weapons, legs that were a bit too light for all of the mass it was meant to support, a flight system with wings that were way too massive and cumbersome, an armor system that should have only been used in heavy mechs, and an amazingly resilient active shielding system that drained the mech's insufficient power supply within minutes!
In other words, the auto-generated hero mech that Axelar was about to duel with was a sluggish, bloated mess with practically no endurance should it activate all of its systems!
If Ves was in charge, he would have easily been able to build a mech that was at least ten times more effective in battle!
"You stupid drug-addled idiot!" Ves mentally cursed at Axelar. "Even if you know nothing about mech design, you should at least know better than to weigh your mech down with such a cumbersome armor system! Even if the flight system you chose is powerful, that is only the case with proper medium mechs!"
As it was, the hero mech that Axelar ended up with was practically a sitting duck! Its turning rate was so slow that practically any competent opponent would be able to circle around and attack Axelar's mech from the rear!
Even as Ves vented his frustration at Axelar for constantly clouding his mind with recreational stimulant, he also noted the technologies at the Terran highborn's disposal.
Practically every aspect surpassed the technology used in the galactic rim by an incredible margin!
"With all of this high technology and high-grade exotics at the Confederation's disposal, it's no surprise that they don't stick to specialized mech archetypes."
Many weapon systems didn't take up a lot of space, but could nevertheless inflict a lot of damage. This led to the trend of integrating various weapon systems in the frame of the mech.
It was kind of like integrating frontline mech traits into the frame of a standard humanoid mech. Through combining numerous internal and external weapon systems into a single machine, a multipurpose mech exhibited much fewer apparent weaknesses.
Not only that, but many of the high-tech flight systems available in the auto designer were not as cumbersome as those used in the galactic rim! Better tech and better materials allowed component designers to miniaturize and even break up the flight system into remarkably compact modules!
This basically meant that pure landbound mechs didn't exist in first-rate superstates! Almost every mech possessed the capability to fly because it was incredibly easy to integrate flight systems and flight modules to even the heaviest mech frames.
If designed correctly, then first-class mechs might even be able to operate under all four major environmental conditions! This meant that a single mech could operate on land, in the air, in space and underwater without suffering any major handicaps to their performance!
"This is practically the holy land of mech design!"
Ves envied Axelar's access to so much high technology and excellent materials. Although the scion of the Streon Clan was a member of the Terran elite, the mechs piloted by the rank-and-file shouldn't be too much worse!
"No wonder a lot of Masters succumb to the temptation of moving to the galactic center. With so many possibilities, Masters have a much easier time in realizing their ideal mech designs."
Still, the sheer amount of abundance at the disposal of the Terrans also led to a lot of waste. Every mech was overengineered and tried to stuff far more exotic systems and gimmicks than any single machine ought to possess. The high degree of restraint exhibited by mech designers in the galactic rim was nowhere present in the galactic center!
"More is not always better." Ves mentally shook his head.
As a mech designer from the galactic rim, Ves inherited the prevailing values of the region. Efficiency was paramount, and even if he did not always put this priority first, he still valued cost-efficient designs.
His exposure to Terran mech standards still left him reeling to be honest. Ves felt like he was a pauper who lived in the slums all his life, only to be picked up and dropped into a prosperous downtown city district!
"How many Terrans have access to something like the auto designer?"
Although Ves looked down on the crappy auto-generated mech that Axelar casually put together, it was still a genuine first-class mech that could defeat hundreds of third-class mechs in a straightforward battle!
"What a waste!" Ves couldn't help but lament at Axelar's ugly creation.
In practice, the multipurpose mech's lack of mobility and low endurance made the mech far too susceptible against long-ranged artillery bombardment.
While Ves continued to mentally berate the awful mech design that Axelar put together, a few hours passed by. Benny finally injected Alexar with some sort of flushing chemical that pulled the completely insensitive junkie back into a half-coherent state.
"Master Oliver of the Renwald Clan has arrived." Benny dutifully informed.
"Oh? Why is Oliver here?" Axelar asked with a slur in his voice.
"You scheduled a friendly mech duel with him tonight. Don't you remember?"
After seven painfully long seconds, Axelar a light finally dawned in his eyes. "Oh right! I promised I would kick his butt this time! With the amazing new mech that I've designed, I'll finally be able to gloat in front of his face!"
With the assistance of Benny and an array of bots, Axelar freshened up his appearance and donned a very sharp outfit. If not for his hazy eyes and his swaying movements, he might have actually lived up to the high reputation of the Terrans.
Moments later, Axelar moved to the foyer of his villa and met his friend.
"Axelar! How's it going, buddy?"
"I'm feeling fantastic, Oliver! Ever since I took over that pharmaceutical company, I've been enjoying some of the best highs in my life!"
"Hey, don't keep all the good stuff to yourself!"
"I would never deprive you of my stimulants. Benny, hit Oliver up with the latest formula."
Axelar's bodyguard silently stepped forward. Benny nodded once to Oliver's bodyguards before he injected the guest with a powerful stimulant.
"Whoa! I'm seeing stars! Damn, I need to sit down for this. I can feel the next wave coming already!"
"Hahaha! My drug company makes the best stimulants in the galaxy!" Axelar boasted. "Benny, hit me up with a dose as well!"
"Master Axelar, what about your duel?"
"Forget about the duel! Testing my company's latest formula is much more important! In fact, scrap the duel!"
"And your newly-materialized mech?"
"Dump it into a star for all I care."
Ves watched with mounting disgust as Axelar and Oliver both forgot about the mech duel they previously scheduled. Instead, they spent the rest of the evening sampling some of the latest stimulant formulas that Axelar's pharmaceutical company developed for their owner!
All of the drugs were very potent on their own, but when taken in quick succession, their effects blended with each other to achieve incredibly powerful physiological reactions!
Both Axelar and Oliver drugged themselves into a completely smashed and insensate state! Even newborn babies were more coherent than this pair of degenerate druggies!