Chapter 3154: Different Mech Pilot
The Dark Zephyr raced across a large volume of empty space and showcased the full speed and agility of the mech.
It danced back and forth as it tried its best to evade hundreds of invisible energy beams.
At this stage, the Larkinson Army and more specifically the Hall of Heroes had refined Venerable Tusas training regime.
The power of an expert mech was so great that the normal intensity of routine practice was completely inadequate.
Over multiple months, the live training sessions became increasingly more intense, systematic and professional.
For example, in order to conveniently provide a huge practice space where the Dark Zephyr could show its paces without exposing anything, the Black Cats specially procured and modified interference bots in huge batches.
Thousands of tens of thousands of them could jam and mess up most forms of detection in a volume that stretched out for plenty of kilometers!
If Venerable Tusa wanted to test the limits of his expert mechs speed, then the bots could be deployed in a long rectangular track so that the expert pilot would be able to gain precious experience in handling situations while accelerating forward.
In order to provide challenging exercises to Tusa without burdening the Larkinson Army too much, the Hall of Heroes also procured small and compact bots that were capable of firing weak, invisible beams that hardly did any damage but could be fired at an incredible frequency without worrying about inflicting any damage to anything.
No matter if it hit a starship, a mech, a shuttle or even a human wearing a vacsuit, no one would come to any harm!
This enabled the practice scenarios to be omnidirectional, which meant that Tusa had to worry about dodging attacks from every angle.
The ranged bots came with a variety of targeting modes.
They could rely on their awful inbuilt targeting systems.
They could connect to a central automated targeting system aboard combat carriers and combat-oriented capital ships for much better results.
Mech pilots and other people could even connect to them remotely in order to put their skills to the test against the most challenging foe they faced!
Through these tools and more, Venerable Tusa gained plenty of stimulation from having to dodge these attacks, especially when he did not rely on his mechs characteristic Perception Distortion ability.
At first, his performance wasnt exactly stellar.
His ability to anticipate attacks started off rather poor when the ranged bots first came into service.
The bots were small and numerous, so it was hard to keep track of their movements.
What was worse was that it was hard for the Dark Zephyr to track the activity of their ultraweak energy projectors.
Without the capacity to reliably detect energy and heat buildup just before a weapon released a shot, Venerable Tusa had to rely on other measures in order to avoid getting hit!
He relied heavily on his instincts, intuition, experience and other intangible sources to judge where he should move in order to avoid an attack that he had no objective way of perceiving.
It was outright magical how the Dark Zephyr was able to glide away from a danger zone moments before an energy beam punched through the area!
Venerable Tusa was not only able to do this once, but hundreds of times before he finally slipped up and allowed his expert mech to get grazed.
His performance was drawing a lot of admiration from the other Larkinson mech pilots.
Both old and new clansmen were continually amazed at all of the incredible maneuvers that Tusa was able to pull off.
The parameters of his expert mechs excellent agility, responsiveness and thrust-to-mass ratio were so high that it was as if they were looking at the shadow of a first-class mech!
Currently, the practice session had become a little more interesting than other times due to the participation of other mechs.
Just over a dozen Ferocious Piranhas tried their best to chase after the Dark Zephyr while being subjected to the harmless beams of dozens of ranged bots.
Unfortunately, compared to the graceful and seemingly prescient Dark Zephyr, the ordinary second-class light skirmishers were doing a pretty bad job at evading the invisible beams!
It was not because the attacks werent visible.
The sophisticated sensor systems of second-class mechs were easily able to detect the weak energy beams, but by the time the systems passed their observations on to the mech pilot, the lightspeed attacks had already struck their targets!
Obviously, ordinary mech pilots did not possess the superhuman intuition and judgement of an expert pilot.
This caused the mech pilots that Venerable Tusa took under his wing to struggle considerably.
“Alright, stop!” Tusa commanded.
The bots immediately ceased fire while the mechs turned around and accelerated in the other direction in order to stop going forward and shooting past the interference envelope.
As Venerable Tusa brought his expert mech in front of the Ferocious Piranhas, their respective glows and other influences mingled together.
The glows of the Ferocious Piranhas were harmless towards friendlies, fortunately, but their presence still charged the surrounding space with an indefinable energy.
The combined pressure exuded by the Dark Zephyr was not as easy to endure to other people.
The combination of an expert mech and prime mech produced a slightly more empowered aura that made the Speed Demons a little more light-headed.
It was fortunate that Tusas force of will was actually the gentlest and least oppressive out of the Larkinson mech pilots.
It was disturbingly easy to overlook Tusa and his expert mech when they wanted to attract as little attention as possible.
“Im glad to see that youre making progress.” He transmitted to the Larkinsons who received the privilege of receiving direct instruction from an expert pilot.
“To become a true Speed Demon, it is not enough to maximize the thrust power of your flight systems and waste a lot of power in vain.
What truly matters is to anticipate attacks, move away from them before they even appear and to keep your mech alive.
Excellent training can only take you so far.
Just look at the performance of our latest addition.
As much as I applaud his trained judgement and his technical piloting skills, he is not the best performer among your group.”
The mech pilots all directed their sensors towards the Ferocious Piranha floating to their right.
This mech was different from the rest because it wasnt piloted by a Larkinson.
Instead, its cockpit was occupied by Jessica Quentin, one of the twenty MTA mech pilots assigned to train with the Larkinson Clan.
The woman did not look pleased at her performance.
“If I was piloting my old service mech, I would have been able to respond a lot faster.
This Ferocious Piranha is a fine mech by second-class standards, but it is not a machine that I am accustomed to working with.
The delay between issuing a command and having it actually move is excruciating.”
“Dont blame the machine for your poor showing, Jessica.” Tusa admonished.
The Dark Zephyr gestured towards another Ferocious Piranha.
“Some of our own clansmen managed to outperform you despite possessing worse skills.
Do you know why that is the case”
“They were lucky.
The results of a training exercise like this are highly randomized.
We did not run it long enough to average out results to an adequate degree.”
“We arent statisticians here, Jessica.
I dont give a crap about luck.
No matter whether youre lucky or unlucky on the battlefield, you have no choice but to deal with whatever happens.
Instead of thinking about factors outside of your control, you should be working on relying on measures you can actually take.
Now, does anyone know why Jessica performed worse in this particular test”
“Shes not used to piloting our mechs.” Someone suggested.
“Her intuition isnt as good.”
“Shes so used to piloting the good stuff that she doesnt know how to pilot ourinferior mechs.”
Venerable Tusa smirked.
“These are all valid reasons to me, but I think the biggest variable is something else.
Let me ask you all a question.
Do you love your mechs”
“The Ferocious Piranha is perfect for my style!”
“I just love to terrorize our foes with its glow.”
Even the clansmen who preferred to pilot a swifter and more scouting-oriented light mech had come to embrace the Ferocious Piranha.
The notorious mech model designed by their patriarch not only conveyed unique advantages through its nauseating glow, but also performed well in many different areas.
The light skirmisher models only major shortcoming was that its straight-line acceleration was not the best.
However, there was one property in particular that caused many if not all Larkinson mech pilots to love their respective mechs.
“Do you know what you are missing, Jessica”
The MTA mech pilot frowned.
“I dont love my mech as much as the rest”
“I can see it in the way you treat, handle and speak about your mech.
To you, the Ferocious Piranha is just an inferior, temporary machine to you.
Even though you should be able to feel the living traits of your fine light skirmisher, you dont take advantage of them as much as the rest.”
The entire concept of living mechs sounded a bit exaggerated to Jessica.
How could machines made out of metal and composites be alive What she felt whenever she piloted her mech could easily be dismissed as psychedelic illusions!
“I dont see how this has anything to do with my performance in this test.”
“It has everything to do with your performance! Look, I cant exactly tell you how to become an expert pilot.
You need to find your own way.
What I can tell you however is that I think you are making it much harder for yourself by continuing to treat your mechs as tools.”
“Mechs are instruments of war, Venerable.”
“Youre not wrong, pilot, but they can be more than that.
The mechs designed by our patriarch especially embody this.
I believe that your refusal or reluctance to bond with your mech is hindering you from improving any further.
Dont take my word for it as I dont really know how this actually works, but in my opinion you are not worthy to go any further unless you drop your disaffection towards your current mech and begin to appreciate it for its merits!”
Though Jessica respected Venerable Tusa for his power and accomplishments, that didnt mean she was easily swayed by him.
The systematic training she received from the MTA went into great detail about the different properties and possibilities of different mechs.
First-class mechs came in very great varieties and it was essential for every qualified MTA mech pilot to acquire some of the knowledge that typically belonged to mech designers.
She could make detailed comparisons between the Ferocious Piranha and her old first-class service mechs.
The unquestionable gulf in performance between the two prevented her from developing a sincere appreciation for her weak and crippled machine.
It was as if she used to live in a mansion but suddenly had to room in a shabby student dorm.
To her, the transition was so great that it was as if she was forced to reside in a small packing crate!
Venerable Tusa could sense Jessicas stubbornness.
“Just think it over, Quentin.
No good ever comes with disrespecting the machine that does its best to protect you and serve your needs in battle.
One of the lessons that our patriarch has taught to us is that we are not separate from our mechs.
We are two parts of the same whole.
In order for one to grow stronger, the other has to cooperate.
Otherwise the mech will serve to hold you back and pin you in place.”
The other Larkinson mech pilots all nodded in agreement.
They had no reason to question or reject these sage words of advice.
Jessica Quentin, who trained under a completely different mech culture, simply thought that the expert pilot was spewing fantasies.
Perhaps there were a few nuggets of truth in his story, but the MTA was well aware that expert pilots never excelled in science and logic!
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