Despite the violent cursing of the test pilots, they largely managed to survive the endurance tests.
Some mech pilots failed.
Some mech pilots succeeded.
Ves recognized that the determining factor for success was genetic aptitude and willpower. Those whose minds adapted better to their mechs and possessed firmer wills tended to be more resilient against outside interference.
The polluting thoughts of the dwarves was like a virus. They only posed a serious threat to the mech pilots if their minds were brittle.
Unfortunately, many Vandal and Swordmaiden mech pilots didn't possess much promise in their genetic aptitudes. The rank-and-file mostly exhibited a lower-than-average genetic aptitude, so the vast majority of them couldn't rely on their piloting talent to withstand any intrusions in their man-machine connection.
As for willpower, perhaps only ten percent of the Vandal mech pilots possessed strong enough minds to endure for ten whole minutes.
Ves didn't expect a mind struggle to last that long on the battlefield. It was already good enough if a mech pilot could withstand the foreign pressure long enough to kill the source or move out of range from the attack.
"The Swordmaidens are probably best at bearing through the pain."
To confirm his guess that willpower was the decisive factor, he borrowed a couple of Swordmaiden test pilots. The women didn't come willingly, having heard all the horror stories of what went on in his lab.
That didn't matter, though. Commander Lydia agreed with the test and figured her Swordmaidens could use some toughening up.
Indeed, the results matched his expectations. Even the weakest-minded Swordmaidens performed better than the average Vandal mech pilot. Their rigorous training and discipline allowed them to bear the foreign thoughts sent out by the dwarf captives with hardly any impact on their performance.
When Ves laid out all the results in a conference meeting, Captain Byrd looked at the mech pilots in the room and shook her head.
The mech pilots all appeared subdued when Ves gave his report. They still wanted to avoid him like the plague!
"You say that your best achievement so far is an eighty percent reduction in intensity." Captain Byrd said. "Is there no way to provide our mech pilots with complete immunity against this attack?"
Ves grimaced. He hated to leave a job undone, but his inability left him with little choice. "Unlikely. I'm already working out of my depth here, hence all the trial and error attempts. Now that I've applied all the basic solutions I can come up with, I'll have to take an undue amount of risks in search of an even better solution. Suffering permanent brain damage won't be out of the question anymore if I do so."
All the mech pilots showed some panic once he mentioned the possibility. None of them wanted his experiments to go on!
"Enough is enough!" Captain Orfan yelled. "Eighty percent is enough! We're strong enough to shoulder the rest, isn't that right, guys?"
"I agree with you, ma'am!"
"It's our own fault if we lose control of our mechs then!"
Ves looked at the mech officers and grinned a little bit. He silently discounted at least half of them. From what he gathered from his tests, it took a focused and strong-willed mind to endure the influence of a third mind in the man-machine connection.
That meant someone like Captain Orfan would actually be able to bear the strain. She had confidence in spades!
As for the other mech pilots and mech officers, Ves held much less expectations. Some of them were rather decent while others didn't possess the right mindset to excel in their profession.
One of the major deficiencies of the Flagrant Vandals had always been their lack of skilled and talented personnel.
The Swordmaidens suffered from the same problem, but the difference was that Commander Lydia selected promising gems from the frontier and brutally trained them until they shaped up to be elites among pirates.
In terms of willpower, confidence and projection of strength, the Swordmaidens actually beat the servicemen in this regard!
Ves found that to be rather pathetic! As members of a military mech regiment, the Vandals didn't conform to standards. Their unconventional esprit the corps may be able to bind them together, but it didn't actually make a serious attempt at uniting their minds as one!
As for the Swordmaidens, much of their individuality had been drilled out of their bones out in order to fit them in the same mold. They were Swordmaidens first, and individuals second.
As for the Vandals, they were self-serving bastards first, and Vandal bastards second.
The things he learned about willpower through his experiments gave him a lot of insights in the nature of mech pilots.
The contrast between the bastard Vandals and the disciplined Swordmaidens taught him that willpower wasn't an intrinsic quality. It could be trained!
Ves guessed that may be why expert pilots overwhelmingly tended to emerge from the willpower. Only rarely did they pop up among mercenary of pirate outfits.
However, the existence of outfits like Lydia's Swordmaidens showed that the military didn't hold a monopoly on the practice of instilling discipline and willpower in their mech pilots.
The reason why Ves paid a lot of attention to this was because he intended to take advantage of the insights he gained. Once he finally returned home, he planned to overhaul the Avatars of Myth and attempt to turn them into an elite personal force if his cousin Melkor hadn't done so yet.
As much as he developed a minor kinship with the Flagrant Vandals, Ves disliked their undisciplined aspects. He did not want his principal bodyguards to be as sloppy and dubious as the Vandals. He'd much rather shape his retinue into something more dependable like the Swordmaidens who could be trusted to follow orders without slacking off.
In any case, right now Captain Byrd needed to decide whether to continue the research or end it here. Due to the vehemence of the other mech pilots and the advice of Ves, she had no choice but to leave this problem half-solved.
"Alright. We'll stop at this level of progress. Mr. Larkinson, please slowly install this modified neural interface into our mechs one by one. Every mech with the new neural interface needs to undergo extensive testing before its allowed to resume their usual duties. Is that clear?"
He nodded. "Yes, ma'am. Can I share this innovation with the Swordmaidens?"
"Please do. They are our allies and they need the new neural interfaces more than us."
With this development, the Swordmaiden melee mech pilots would no longer fear engaging the natives in melee range.
Ves wasn't finished though. "Captain Byrd, I have another suggestion. I'd like to keep the testing facility operational and retain all the dwarf captives. From my experiments, I found out that any test pilot that undergoes multiple endurance tests become increasingly more capable of resisting outside influences. I'd like to turn this experiment into a regular exercise and have every Vandal go through what is essentially a mental disciplining exercise."
"No! Don't torture us you crazy mech designer!"
"No, please, no!"
"Stop it! You got what you wanted!"
Both Ves and Captain Byrd ignored the bleating mech officers.
As a calm and rational officer, Captain Byrd stood above these petty concerns. "What are the benefits?"
Ves had to be careful in describing this. He had a lot of suspicions, but could only mention the things he knew for sure. "It's unlikely that our mech pilots will directly improve in their performance, but their tolerance for pain and mental pain will constantly grow. This allows them to remain clear-minded and free from the distraction of pain and battle damage. That aside, it also enables them to maintain their composure if any of the natives attempt to take control over their mechs."
These benefits alone sounded incredibly attractive to Captain Byrd, though the mech pilots who actually had to go through this torture disagreed.
"What are the drawbacks?"
"Well have to arrange transportation for the testing facility and the testing mech. We also have to accommodate the dwarf captives over a longer term. I'm unsure whether they will be able to maintain their strength and ferocity during long-term captivity. We may need to replace the older captives with new ones in order to give our mech pilots a good mental exercise."
Some of the dwarf captives had become a little too used to the luxuries of captivity. Instead of toiling for survival in the wild, the former chieftain and warriors leisurely spent their time in their cells and had their food delivered to them at constant intervals.
Ves had noticed a drop in intensity lately whenever he carted out the dwarf captives in front of the testing mech.
Realizing that he pampered the formerly ferocious dwarves, he began to change up their routine in order to restore some of their wildness. In fact, he handed this task over to Ketis, who seemed uniquely suited at this job.
Grinning all the while, she began to make life hard for the dwarves. Not only did she wake them up in their cells at random moments, she also sent some security officers in their cells to bully them or beat them up.
In order to make their life a struggle, she decreased the intake of food. Instead of three nutrient packs a day, they only subsided on a single one per day.
That was pure torture for these dwarves as they required a huge amount of calories to sustain themselves, especially because their cells fell outside of the influence of the antigrav fields.
In order to encourage them to be cruel, she pitted them together in makeshift sparring matches. The winner received an extra nutrient pack for the day while the loser had to watch with envy as his rival consumed a precious meal.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
The harsh but effective methods that Ketis came up with spurred some of the dwarves into a greater frenzy, but it also broke some of the weaker dwarves into giving up. Right now, five of the captives had devolved into traumatized dummies.
The testing facility needed fresh blood!
"If you think it is feasible and safe to do so, then I'll approve it." Captain Byrd finally decided over pretty much everyone's objections. She became so annoying by their blathering that she finally snapped. "Shut up! Are you Vandals or are you chickens?! Don't you realize that this is a rare opportunity to exercise your minds? We need to be as strong as possible for when we finally encounter the other forces at the Starlight Megalodon, and this is one of the only ways we can strengthen ourselves!"
"But Captain, this is torture! Our nerves will wear out if we go through this barbaric practice."
Ves spoke up. "Technically, there's a high chance your nerves will undergo a lot of strain and be overburdened for a time, particularly if you undergo this exercise too often. However, it's just like exercising your muscles. Train too hard and your body will break. Train too little and your body won't be stimulated to improve. Right now, we've hit a sweet spot where the intensity is a bit high but not to the point of risking permanent brain damage."
"According to who?!"
"According to me."
"You told us yourself that you're not an expert in this field! You're a mech designer, not a doctor! What do you know about brains?!"
"All the doctors I've consulted have concluded that the test pilots that have participated in my experiments are fine. That should be sufficient proof."
Naturally, the mech officers remained highly opposed, but their objections didn't matter. They all had to follow orders! If Captain Byrd told them to go through with the exercise, then they had no choice but to do it, because they were servicemen!
Just like Ves, she knew that most of them were rather lacking in terms of firmness and willpower. If the Vandals could polish up the mental resilience of their mech pilots through these unconventional means, then their odds of success would definitely increase!
In fact, part of the reason why Ves wanted to continue with this activity was because he suspected that it might even be useful in disciplining his own forces.
If he could simulate the unique and all-encompassing mental strain imposed on the mech pilots by the dwarf captives through artificial means, then he'd be able to develop the perfect training machine to increase the mental resilience of the mech pilots under his service!
With such a training method, his Avatars of Myth would be able to match the Swordmaidens in mental resilience without necessarily having to undergo a decade of intensive training.
Of course, this was a very stupid and mindless way of training mental resilience. It only increased a mech pilot's tolerance for mental pain. It did not discipline their minds, increase their belonging to their units or bring any other benefits.
The Avatars of Myth still needed to undergo an intensive training regime, but with this extra training method, they would have an edge over most private outfits.