The more he delved into the design of the Kinslayer, the more Ves took note of how its designer applied the principles of tiger mechs.
\"This is a bestial mech designed to fight against beasts!\"
Quite a number of aspects present in regular bestial mechs would not work out when pitted against an organic monstrosity like a Crown Cat.
A Crown Cat could never be felled by a single ambush! They were also fairly resistant to damage, so no matter how much a tiger mech emphasized offensive power, it would never be enough to defeat these apex predators in a single round!
\"Zeigra isn't called a Crown Cat for nothing! He's a veritable king of his hunting zone!\"
For this reason, the Kinslayer and the other mechs of the Felixia Catstrikers piled up a substantial amount of armor.
The thick armor plating allowed the mechs to withstand several solid hits from a formidable Crown Cat without instantly losing battle power!
However, the key phrase here was 'several'! Due to the limits with regard to the cost and quality of every mech deployed for hunting, the armor systems of the Kinslayer and the humanoid mechs of the Catstrikers really couldn't endure that much damage!
Normally, if the armor of the mechs proved insufficient, then they often relied on mobility to evade damage.
However, due to the substantial amount of armor weighing down the mechs, their mobility was firmly below average!
\"These mechs can't possibly outrun a Crown Cat!\"
At first glance, this common configuration made little sense to Ves. The Catstrikers had no confidence that any of their mechs could withstand a lot of blows from Zeigra. Not even the two knight mechs of the hunting team looked like they were geared to block Zeigra's attacks for long.
Ves could read the underlying approach of the Catstrikers from the configuration of the armor of their mechs. They treated the beginning of a hunt as the moment where their mechs were still in peak condition.
Throughout the process of hunt whereby multiple rounds would ensue between the hunting team and Zeigra, the condition of the mechs quickly degraded.
\"The Catstrikers are deliberately sacrificing the durability of their mechs in exchange for weakening Zeigra and sapping his strength!\"
Turning the hunt into a contest of attrition meant that Lady Miralix and her hunting team would have to manage the condition of her mechs carefully. That was going to be a very big challenge as the rounds they fought against Zeigra had to be as ferocious and aggressive as possible in order to deter the cat from persisting too long in a round!
If Zeigra smelled any notable weakness from the mechs who attacked him, the ruthless cat would surely press on with his assault in order to get rid of his attackers once and for all!
If the Catstrikers wanted to avoid this outcome, they had to use their mechs boldly and without reserve. They needed to accept that their mechs would get more and more trashed after each round with the Crown Cat.
Of course, if everything went right, then the sacrifices the Catstrikers made would be worth it. A battle of attrition was a race to make an opponent tire themselves out and lose battle effectiveness first!
Though Ves found this hunting strategy to be rather iffy on many points, the huge game hunters on Felixia utilized this approach for decades.
As Ves studied the mech in greater detail, he left Gavin and the rest of his staff to perform other errands on his behalf. Some of the arrangements he made with Lady Miralix required some preparation on his end.
For example, as part of her payment, she withdrew some valuable materials from House Laterna's warehouses that Ves anticipated he would need to fabricate the finished version of the Devil Tiger. Shipping them to one of the supply ships of the Battle Criers and ordering additional materials to round out his requirements took time.
While Gavin took care of these logistical matters, Ves also sent Crindon and the Ingvars onto other fact-finding missions.
He wanted the Ingvars to carefully sound out any information about the Peacekeepers. A lot of mech pilots in Kemila used to serve in one of the outfits aligned with the anti-piracy organization, or had friends or relatives who fought under their banner.
Mech pilots like Imon and Casella should find it relatively easy to connect with these people.
As for Crindon, Ves tasked him with the much more sensitive mission of gathering information about the secretive and highly prohibited Circle of Mota.
He trusted his Kinner security expert and spy to investigate the Circle discreetly, which was very hard to do on a planet like Felixia where practically every corner was being monitored.
Still, Crindon confidently expressed his ability to circumvent these means, so Ves didn't worry too much. The Kinner he bought had more than proven his competence.
He turned his attention back to the Kinslayer. As a tiger mech, Ves gained a lot of interest in its configuration and overall structure.
From a battle mechatronics perspective, the Kinslayer excelled in short-duration brawls. The tiger mech could take a lot of hits due to its thick armor and well-protected internal parts.
Its offensive power was considerable as its limbs were strengthened and could exert a lot of force. Its claws were sharp and made of high-quality compressed alloys that added significantly to the cost of the mech.
One interesting attribute about the claws was that they were designed to be disposable. If a claw ever broke or grew too dull to slice through exobeast hide, the mech could eject the spent claws and slot in replacements.
This could even take place in the middle of battle!
\"This is quite a good solution to the problem of spent claws.\" He muttered.
When humanoid mechs broke their weapons, they could easily discard them and pick up replacements. This was a bit harder to do for bestial mechs which came with integrated weapon systems, so this little claw-replacement mechanism aimed to solve one of the weaknesses of the mech type.
Aside from the claws, the tiger mech also featured a ferocious feline head with very strong jaws and teeth.
According to Lady Miralix, the Kinslayer's primary armament was its claws. In normal circumstances, the mech should not employ its teeth until the hunt came to a close.
The Kinslayer's crushing bite was its finishing move. When used at the right moment against Zeigra, the Crown Cat hopefully lost enough blood and energy to fail when he attempted to shake off the bite.
However, if Lady Miralix misjudged the moment, the Kinslayer's head would definitely sustain massive damage as Zeigra vigorously shook off the bite digging into his hide!
In addition to its strong and potentially fatal bite, the tiger mech also incorporated the customary weapon system in the throat. A powerful but very short-ranged heat projector insured the Kinslayer would surely melt, burn and vaporize anything caught in its jaws!
\"This mech is all about the bite. As long as it can bite onto Zeigra and keep hold, this heat projector will slowly be able to finish off the Crown Cat!\"
From this, it became clear that Lady Miralix intended to refrain from entering the fray until the final round. At that point, the other Catstrikers hopefully pushed Zeigra to the brink of his endurance.
The approach made a lot of sense to Ves, though the price was pretty serious!
\"Her lackeys will have to face the brunt of Zeigra's fury!\"
If the hunt lasted for four rounds, then the noblewoman's subordinates had to risk their lives and their mechs in the first three rounds without the support of the Kinslayer.
The first round was particularly dangerous to the humanoid mechs of the Catstrikers, as they were tasked with trying to consume Zeigra's strength when the Crown Cat was in his best condition!
\"The first round is key!\" He realized. \"If the mech pilots hired by Lady Miralix don't have enough resolve, then Zeigra might decide to persist!\"
The hunt would be doomed from the start if this happened! At best, Lady Miralix would deploy her Kinslayer ahead of schedule and hope that her unplanned addition was enough to repel the Crown Cat's offensive.
However, the price of doing so would certainly be big as the Kinslayer would be hard to repair in the field once it accumulated serious battle damage!
\"The big problem is that the Kinslayer isn't a mech built to last!\"
None of the mechs of the Catstrikers excelled in durability and longevity. Sure, they piled up a lot of armor, but the hunting team merely intended to use them as disposable buffers over the course of the hunt.
For the first couple of rounds, Ves had to make sure the humanoid mechs lasted long enough. As long as they succeeded in tiring Zeigra out, then it didn't matter if they weren't in fighting shape anymore once the final round began.
That would be the moment when the Kinslayer stepped forward. Perhaps Lady Miralix might even opt to duel the injured and tired Zeigra by herself!
Ves grimaced at the thought. \"That's a needlessly perilous decision.\"
These kinds of 'heroic', one-on-one duels looked great in footage. It didn't matter if Lady Miralix sent out her subordinates as sacrificial lambs to weaken the Crown Cat beforehand. People who saw the footage would automatically assume that Miralix herself had brought Zeigra to the brink!
Such duels therefore allowed Lady Miralix to harvest the most gains out of hunting Zeigra.
Showing off a trophy alone wasn't enough to convey the fearsomeness of a Crown Cat to her fellow members of high society.
By providing footage of her impressive stand against Zeigra, she'd be able to show off her battle prowess in the best possible light!
However, the problem that Ves had with this course of action was that this was a decision that optimized vanity, not success. By forcing her teammates to surround the Crown Cat but refrain from attacking, she would have to face whatever might that Zeigra still retained during the final round!
\"In short, the Kinslayer has to be capable enough to duel an exhausted but very desperate Crown Cat!\"
Ves could not imagine what kind of state Zeigra would end up at that moment. Even he did not dare to assume that a weakened and wounded Crown Cat would be weaker than a fully-intact tiger mech.
All of these uncertainties and guesswork frustrated Ves as he found it difficult to anticipate how he should adjust the mechs of the Catstrikers.
\"In any case, the humanoid mechs need to be tweaked in a way that will improve their odds of lasting for multiple rounds.\" He judged.
As for the Kinslayer, its current configuration should already be sufficient. It was designed to output its full strength for a single round of combat and Ves believed this was probably the most optimal approach.
\"It's better to confront a cornered beast with one pristine mech and eleven damaged mechs than twelve damaged mechs!\"
On this point, Ves happened to agree with the strategy adopted by Lady Miralix. However, this also left him with very little to do with regards to the Kinslayer's design.
As a work designed by a fellow Journeyman, Ves was reluctant to mess with its solid foundation.
However, if Ves changed too little, then Lady Miralix might suspect that Ves was dragging his feet and only went through the motions!
He frowned. How could he turn the Kinslayer into a mech that seemed as if it had undergone some serious work?
As Ves started to plan his upcoming modification plan for the Kinslayer, Gavin paid a sudden visit to him at the compound.
\"What is it, Benny?\"
\"There's news! The Rocit Butchers have returned!\"
\"What?! That fast?!\"
\"Yeah! What's more is that they've succeeded! They killed the Dragon Cat!\"
That caused Ves to sit down. Inwardly, he hoped that the Butchers would fail to kill the Dragon Cat or at least capture her alive, but the Butchers weren't known for their restraint.
\"I see. Thank you for informing me. I'll get back to work.\"
\"You're not getting it, boss!\" Gavin shook his head. \"The reason why I went out and informed you is because the Butchers have temporarily stored the remains in a cooling chamber in the city! Didn't you want to study the Dragon Cat? This is your chance! Even if the huge cat is dead, you can still take a good look!\"
Ves widened his eyes. \"That's a great idea!\"