Chief Haine figured it out first. "You never intended to stick to the Pointed Sentinel's original design!"
"Exactly." Ves confirmed her guess with a perpetual grin. "Even if I designed a variant of the Pointed Sentinel that can make up for some of its weaknesses, its foundation is too weak! Rather than limiting ourselves to the shackles of the base model, why not break it apart and free it from mediocrity?"
"Are you crazy, Mr. Larkinson?! Do you know the immensity of what you are aiming to accomplish? You're too ambitious! I wouldn't be surprised if you chose to go this route if we had a month's worth of time to tackle the problems that crop up slowly, but you only have three days time!"
Ves took her reproach without any sign of relenting. This was going to be one of his most challenging projects to date. In truth, his ambitious was indeed very wild, but his past competition experience already showed him that he could work under pressure.
He planned to take the Pointed Sentinel, disassemble it into pieces, and substitute its lesser parts with those from the junkyard!
A mech that deviated from any known design by a very wide margin wouldn't be called a variant anymore. If Ves intended to go through with his plan to assemble an entirely different machine from parts of different mech models, then he was basically building a frankenstein mech!
Frankenstein mechs went far beyond patchwork mechs. The latter only filled up some of their holes with inadequate replacement parts. The former completely represented a new and divergent mech model that possessed only a vague relationship with the original design.
To design and assemble a frankenstein mech took a lot of guts! Mixing and matching wildly incompatible mech parts took a lot of skill, especially since every mech designer adhered to their own standards. Some commonalities would be shared among mechs from the same state, but beyond that every mech model comprised of its own system.
Rashly combining parts from different mech models would be like trying to push a square block through a round hole. The parts fundamentally couldn't mate with each other. Even if Ves forced a connection through brute force, the parts all ran on different settings and programming. Trying to harmonize all of those complexities into a coherent whole took a lot of time.
Where would Ves be able to find the time to harmonize the programming?
"You're taking an undue amount of risk for something that might go very bad." The chief warned Ves. "In my judgement, the chance of failure is over ninety percent. That's way too risky to consider this option. We have other alternatives."
"And what are those options? Repairing the Pointed Sentinel? Making minor adjustments? Replacing some of its lesser components with better quality ones?" Ves retorted. "That doesn't go far enough. If you understand the design of the Pointed Sentinel as well as I do, you'll know that it simply can't compete against the Rogue Breaker, especially after Mr. Creta is done with it. Playing it safe will lead to near-certain defeat in my eyes. In a time like this, the riskier option may be the only viable path to victory."
The regular courses of actions didn't cut it to Ves. They didn't go far enough in transforming the Pointed Sentinel from a bargain bin mech into a machine that could fully keep up with Captain Orfan's piloting standard.
Chief Haine didn't look convinced. "Even if you're the head designer, you're not in charge around here. Captain Orfan has put her life on the line for this honor duel, so she should have the final say. I won't agree to something as drastic as building a frankenstein mech without her express approval."
"That's fair enough." Ves acquiesced.
Even though he fully believed his judgement was right, it wasn't his life on the line here. Though he had a limitless amount of plans in his mind, even he sometimes forgot that mech designers ought to serve mech pilots rather than the other way around.
Ves and the Chief returned to the workshop and waited until Captain Orfan paused her simulation battle. She emerged from the pod with an annoyed expression.
"What is it?"
"It's like this."
Both of them explained their intentions to the captain. Chief Haine presented the safer while Ves elaborated on his wild scheme to construct a frankenstein mech.
The captain appeared impassive throughout the explanations. "Look at the results of my simulation battles."
She pressed a button on her half-open pod that summoned a projection of the outcome of the most recent battles. During the time that Ves and Chief Haine explored the inventory and junkyard, she completed over five simulations.
The captain lost in all of the scenarios. Ves read through the readout and saw that she not only tried out the Pointed Sentinel in a dueling environment, but also in large-scale battlefields which the captain was accustomed to. None of those situations ended well for her, and after reading the brief summaries of how her virtual mechs met their ends, he knew why.
"This ain't the time to pussy-foot around." The captain said. "I've been wrangling with this piece of crap in five separate simulations and I barely made any progress. Do you know how difficult it is for me to rein in my power? It's awful!"
"We can make focused improvements into increasing the upper limits of the parts."
"No can't do, chief. That's not good enough for me. A piece of crap is a piece of crap whether you polish it or not. If I knew how bad this stupid Sentinel really performed, I would have asked for another mech!"
"So you approve of my plan then, captain?" Ves looked hopefully at Orfan. He had a decent read on her personality. That was why he felt daring enough to think about building a frankenstein mech. Ordinary mech pilots would never think of piloting such a monstrosity.
"If you can deliver on your promises, then go for it!" The captain grinned. "Risky or not, I'd rather pilot something completely new than whatever variant of the stupid Sentinel you can come up with. Beating Avid Serpent is going to be impossible if my mech is too sluggish!"
Once Captain Orfan agreed with Ves, Chief Haine knew her arguments didn't stand a chance. What Ves proposed matched her intentions better than a more conservative approach. The two looked as thick as thieves as they hashed out a set of criteria the frankenstein mech had to meet.
"First off, the new mech as to keep up with your movements." Ves repeated. "This is the first priority on my list."
"I'm not a speed freak, but I need to react fast and fluidly if I face a close-combat maniac like Avid Serpent."
"Noted. I'll prioritize reaction speed and agility over top speed and flexibility."
Reaction speed and agility basically described how fast the limbs of a mech responded to the commands of a mech pilot. Heavy mechs notoriously scored badly in both. It might take several seconds for a heavy mech to lift a single leg forward. This was because the engine of the mech couldn't keep up with the increase in weight of what was being moved.
Light mechs moved faster because the engine needed to do a lot less work in proportion. This was like the difference between swinging around a dagger and a greatsword. Someone could perform ten swings with a dagger by the time they completed a single slash with a greatsword.
Right now, Captain Orfan didn't care too much about power. Between a dagger and a greatsword, she would rather be wielding a nimble weapon than a more powerful one that could crush an enemy in a single hit.
"Avid Serpent is a slippery pilot." She explained. Orfan hadn't been sleeping during Avid Serpent's duel with Broken Claw. "Her mech and piloting style leans towards power. Getting hit even once by that axe will instantly cripple whatever it hits. Her mech is also somewhat fast and agile for a medium mech."
Ves concurred with her analysis. "Those are my thoughts as well. The Rogue Breaker is fully committed to offense. Its armor isn't bad, but it's definitely compromised in order to increase the axeman mech's offensive power."
"Since Avid Serpent's mech doesn't have a lot of armor, I don't see why my mech needs a lot of power. I can handle a mech with a little less power."
This was a very good tradeoff to make in his eyes. "I'm glad we can agree on this. Now that I've noted down your demands, I'd like to get to work."
"Go ahead, but keep me informed!"
Orfan quickly returned to her simulator while Ves and Chief Haine walked away. The chief shook her head. "I should have expected that."
"Well, her decision is set in stone, so we better get off to work!"
They already wasted some time exploring their options, so Ves was quick to begin his plan. Building the frankenstein mech in three days was going to be a very tall order for him. He couldn't take a conventional approach to its design because it wasted too much time.
He couldn't only attempt do make up the design as he went! Though he already formed a vague vision of his intended outcome, the exact shape of the mech was still beneath a fog.
Ves wasn't used to working on a mech without a concrete vision of the result. Every time he designed a mech, he carved out a solid vision right from the start and never wavered in his attempt to make it come to life.
Still, he believed he was capable enough to adjust his work methods. The X-Factor didn't necessarily rely on a solid vision. It could work just as well on a vaguer premise as long as Ves constructed the appropriate images to override the mixed spirituality embedded in the different parts of the mech.
Ves already knew enough about the Pointed Sentinel's design to know which parts needed replacing. He immediately returned to the junkyard and started dumpster diving for parts.
"Look for a good pair of medium mech legs that emphasizes agility over power." He told the chief. "If I have to do this alone, we'll be stuck here for a while."
Both of them started to scour the wrecks and parts in the junkyard. To determine which parts needed closer consideration, they didn't look at them in the junk pile. They instead sorted through projections of the parts from the control panel installed next the junkyard. The arena organization hadn't thrown in all that junk without documenting what they dumped. Their record-keeping was meticulous, and they even measured all of the damage that had been incurred due to rough handling.
Ves closely sought for pairs of arms and legs. The two pairs of limbs formed the foundation of his frankenstein mech. As long as he made his selection, he could match them with additional parts that worked best with these limbs.
Within a single hour, Ves salvaged a pair of arms from a Lisvian spearman mech. He also dug up two separate leg parts that came from two different mechs of the same model.
Their condition was very important. While they didn't need to be pristine, they should at least be complete. Ves didn't know how many parts he rejected because were filled with holes and other signs of destruction.
Based on the body of the Pointed Sentinel and the parameters of the newly selected arms and legs, Ves picked up a host of other components. He picked out a new engine, power reactor, a whole pile of internal structure supports, internal frame rods, and more.
The most radicular parts he picked up required opening up an entire wreck. He salvaged the complete set of artificial musculature from the insides of another fallen spearman mech!
Chief Haine couldn't believe that Ves was confident enough to transplant artificial musculature optimized for another mech model into his new frankenstein mech! To attempt such a thing was madness!