Before the War General took up its Destroyer Axes, the mech employed an unusual ranged weapon module, turning it into a marksman mech.
Waltz eventually abandoned the strategy seeing that his War General would exhaust its energy reserves long before the Ouroboros succumbed from the damage. Yet even as the mech pulled out the hollow shaft from its chest and turned them into compact handles for its Destroyer Axes, the weapon module in its chest still existed.
Even though retractable armor plating quickly closed up the hole in its chest, it still represented a structural weak point in the War General!
Even in this form, the War General was still very much a multipurpose mech! Although Waltz abandoned all other modes of attack in favor of overpowering the Ouroboros with an unrelenting rain of axe strikes, those other modules still remained in place!
Compared to the Ouroboros which possessed nearly no additional modules, the War General in its light mech form still possessed more than a dozen compact modules spread throughout its frame!
Of all of those modules, the weapon system integrated in its chest was the largest and most powerful of them! To Ves, the weapon module in its chest represented great offensive power.
"Great power always comes at a price!" Ves mentally repeated to himself. "The greater the power, the greater the price!"
Mech designers continually engaged in balancing tradeoffs. Increasing one aspect of a mech always led to decreasing another aspect of a mech.
While the Terrans were able to elevate every parameter of their mechs through the use of superior materials and technology, no matter how advanced first-class mechs turned out to be, they still followed the fundamental rules of mech design!
A design choice that increased the offensive power of a mech inevitably decreased its mobility or defensive power.
A design choice that increased the defensive power of a mech inevitably decreased its mobility or offensive power.
A design choice that increased the mobility of a mech inevitably decreased its offensive or defensive power.
According to this paradigm, the War General in its heavy mech form was a machine that excelled in both offensive and defensive power to the detriment of its mobility.
It was very hard for the Ouroboros to defeat it, let alone come close to it to engage in a close-ranged brawl!
Yet once Waltz shed the outer layer of his mech, the War General adopted a very different set of attributes!
The War General in its second form obviously relied on evasion rather than armor to withstand attacks. Therefore, mobility was paramount and its mech designer put a very heavy emphasis on making it as fast and agile as possible!
In addition to upping its mobility, the War General retained most of its offensive power as well. Various integrated weapon systems as well as the myriad transformations of its main external weapon allowed the War General to employ various powerful offensive modes of attack against a variety of threats!
Whoever designed the War General put a very high emphasis on versatility as well to increase its offensive power. In fact, this property defined the entire design!
While its versatility boosted the offensive power of the mech to a very high level, all of this came at a cost.
"The heavy mech form possesses low mobility while the light mech form is lacking in defensive capabilities."
Although the War General was clad in very strong armor plating, enough for it to withstand several potshots from a positron pistol, its design did not make full use of its armor system!
"The War General can't provide optimal armor coverage with all of the weapon systems and other modules integrated in its frame!"
From the gauss rifles and the radiant beam projector integrated in its chest, the War General's defensive power was frankly awful. The only reason why it managed to last this long against Axelar was that it was simply too mobile to expose its many weak points to accurate attacks.
Yet as long as Axelar managed to land a single substantial attack on one of those weak points, the War General would definitely suffer! Each weapon system was covered up by thin and imperfect retractable armor plating. It was a compromised way of covering up the surface of the mech when its weapon hardpoints weren't being used.
Previously, Ves mentally calculated the amount of power required to pierce through those retractable armor plating and came to the conclusion that it took at least two positron pistol attacks to overcome their defenses.
After that, it took a third hit to exploit the glaring hole in the War General and inflict crippling internal damage.
Axelar wouldn't be able to land three consistent hits on a fast-moving mech. The Ouroboros wouldn't even last long enough to complete that arduous challenge!
He needed to overpower the defenses put in place to protect the War General's frontal weak points within a single attack!
Ves therefore devised a way to do so by overloading the positron pistol. Even though he knew that the pistol would blow up, it at least granted Axelar a single opportunity to unleash a very powerful ranged attack!
With his current level of skill, Axelar wouldn't be able to land his Destroyer Sword on the War General. Not when he was already being suppressed by his opponent's superior skill!
Therefore, the positron pistol was his only choice.
Ves identified the closed weapon port in the chest of the War General as the most critical target.
However, it was easier said than done for Axelar to hit this narrow point on the War General with a single attack!
The Ouroboros only had one chance to fire its positron pistol before it exploded from the strain. Axelar had no second chances once he missed!
At the final moment, it was all up to him and his mech!
Neither disappointed Ves! The Ouroboros managed to land a critical attack on the weapon port of the weapon system integrated in the chest of its opponent. The potent positron beam not only penetrated past the closed weapon port, but also inflicted serious damage to the module and whatever lay beyond!
Something critical such as the power reactor or some other volatile component got struck. This led to a devastating reaction in which the War General blew up from within, separating its upper half from its lower half!
Seconds after the battle, the arena's shield generators deployed a remote shield around the cockpit of the War General.
Despite being in close proximity to the explosion that tore the War General in half, the cockpit was made of incredibly resilient materials! Even though it suffered enormous dents and a number of breaches, the cockpit still managed to preserve the life of its mech pilot!
The audience were stumped. How could the War General get taken out so easily by a single hit? Even if it was a light mech, shouldn't it have lasted a little longer?
The announcer was quicker on the uptake. "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! The verdict is clear. Axelar Streon has won his challenge against the Haspel Asps and defended the honor of the Tyon System!"
The majority of the audience instantly erupted into cheers and applause! The devotion of millions of people in the Cube Arena along with billions if not trillions more watching the live broadcasts of the event all poured into the winner!
Axelar hardly believed he managed to pull of that insanely difficult attack at the end! Yet his skill and his mech both pulled him through!
Using the intact sensors of the remaining head of his damaged Ouroboros, he zoomed in his view on the audience sitting around the cube-shaped arena space.
Beyond the active shielding that did an admirable job in containing all of the destructive weapon emissions, Axelar could hardly find a person in the audience who wasn't cheering him on. Even the out-system visitors who didn't have a stake in the fight congratulated him for his victory!
Axelar never felt like a true mech pilot before this moment. Only now did he saw the joy in his profession. The intense struggle and the close victory he secured made him feel alive in a way that his recreational stimulants never achieved.
The appreciation he received from so many spectators of this high-profile mech duel elevated his mood and motivation to unseen heights. The high he enjoyed from applause was much more enjoyable than any highs induced by artificial stimulation!
"I've been missing out on this! Piloting mechs is a lot better than drowning myself in stimulants!"
For the first time in his life, Axelar began to appreciate his piloting training. Perhaps piloting a mech was not all that bad!
Even as the arena took hold of the immobile Ouroboros and towed it out of the arena space, Axelar was still engaged in this extraordinary moment in his life.
As for the 'other self' responsible for pushing him to unearth his potential, Ves mentally sat back in order to process his own gains.
While Ves did not make a lot of important observations at the start of the mech duel, his gains increased when Axelar became more immersed in the duel. As Axelar opened himself up to the Ouroboros, his thoughts and thinking processes became more involved and more concise!
Ves captured many small details on how Axelar operated his mech! Although the mech pilot wasn't all that used to piloting hero mechs, it was much less complicated to pilot one than a standard multipurpose mech!
"It's very interesting to see the approach of a Terran mech pilot to a hero mech."
To a Terran like Axelar, piloting a hero mech was trivially easy. Yet that did not mean the mech pilots of the Komodo Star Sector would be able to employ the same degree of multitasking as Axelar just employed.
The piloting capabilities of a Terran mech pilot was too far ahead compared to a regular mech pilot from a third-rate state!
Ves observed plenty of regular mech pilots before in his previous Mastery experiences, so he wasn't ignorant to their overall level of performance. What Ves picked up from Axelar was how far mech pilots could go in terms of multitasking and other essential piloting abilities.
"Axelar is more than capable enough to keep up with a high-performing hero mech like the Ouroboros. I can't expect a mech designer from the Bright Republic or the Ylvaine Protectorate to do the same!"
While Axelar made it seem easy, Ves knew that piloting a hero mech was still incredibly complicated! The act of employing both a sword and a rifle at the same time put considerable strain on mech pilots.
Unless they underwent some form of genetic and biological augmentation, normal mech pilots would never be able to bring hero mechs to their full potential!
"That's not necessarily a bad thing." Ves mentally muttered. "A hero mech isn't meant to be an accessible mech pilot."
Only exceptional individuals were meant to pilot hero mechs. Not everyone equalled Lord Javier or Venerable Foster in piloting skill or advancement speed.
One of the most important conclusions he made after witnessing Axelar in action was that hero mech designs should always be private designs.
"Hero mechs are unsuited for mass production. It's absurd for any mech designer to believe they can manufacture heroes en masse!"
How could a hero mech still carry any symbolic meaning if thousands of copies existed at once?
A hero mech should be a unique machine that defined the hero who piloted it! Right now, Axelar's brave performance turned his Ouroboros into his iconic mech!
"Did I really design this mech?" Axelar idly questioned as he slowly disengaged his connection to his mech and powered it down. "How crazy is my other self to design a hero mech, and one that fits so perfectly to me? Am I prodigy in mech design? Maybe I should start designing mechs for a living!"
Ves wanted to palm his face.