Ves came up with a very ambitious reimagining of his smart metal tiger mech.
Not only did it have to be truly alive in a sense, it also had to be capable of continuous growth and evolution!
He wanted to achieve this without imposing too many demands on the owners of his mech.
This meant that Ves couldn\'t rely too much on the competence of the maintenance crew that had to service the Devil Tiger.
In order to accomplish this, Ves opted to apply two measures that solved this particular problem.
First, I\'ll impart some of my knowledge, particularly on metallurgy, to the design spirit!
This way, his mech could skillfully repair itself without relying on the idiots or the enslaved to repair the damage to the mech after an arduous battle!
Second, the exterior of my mech has to have a form of smart metal at its base that can assimilate various materials and exotics! It has to be able to replenish itself as well in the right conditions!
Ves knew that such products existed, but they were prohibitively expensive! They only started showing up in second-class mechs, so for him to get his hands on adaptable smart metal armor plating was easier said than done!
The immense cost and other practical problems associated with his increasingly ambitious design project shocked him out of his excited state.
He palmed his face.
The devil is in the detail! It\'s all well and good to daydream about a fantastic mech, but how in the hell am I supposed to get it all together
Ves got so caught up in his imagination that he lost sight of his limitations! He made the same mistakes of a mech design student who just pieced some shiny parts together!
He calmed down as he tried to figure out how he could possibly obtain the most critical material, which was the adaptable smart metal armor system, or A**AS!
A**AS is not only expensive, but very hard to obtain.
It sounded like a wonder material.
A**AS basically consisted of nanomachine goop that possessed basic material processing capabilities.
If Ves threw a bucket of the goop at a junkyard, the nanomachines would follow its programming and scour the piles of junk for the best materials to form the best possible armor plating that was within their means to create.
Smart metal specialists developed A**AS as a means to create a mech that required little to no actual maintenance and could subside on the field for years.
To their credit, they succeeded.
Only, the price associated with this tech was very prohibitive.
In order to impart material processing capabilities at the microscopic level to a bunch of nanomachines, their complexity had reached an insane height.
In order to even make it all possible, each nanomachine had to incorporate numerous traces of medium or even high-grade exotics!
In other words, to form the initial goop of A**AS, Ves had to make an incredibly expensive investment just to get a bucket of this substance!
This is also the main reason why no one is afraid that A**AS will perpetually self-replicate and turn into a grey goo like threat.
There was another reason why grey goo attacks often failed.
Plenty of crazies attempted to destroy a planet or even the entire galaxy by unleashing a plague of grey goo.
However, while smart metal could accomplish amazing things, at it base it merely consisted of a huge bunch of nanomachines!
Sticking \'nano\' in front of a machine doesn\'t make it any less of a machine! Every machine can be hacked, particularly those that depend heavily on connectivity and coordination!
To be fair, the developers of smart metal did their best to make it as difficult as possible to hack their products.
Nonetheless, their vulnerability towards hacking was a very huge reason why smart metal never took off in the galaxy.
There was only one exception.
Mechs were notoriously difficult to hack because of the man-machine connection.
As long as the smart metal hopped on to the man-machine connection, it became a bit less susceptible to hacking.
Normally, this was due to the human mind connected to the smart metal.
However, in the case of the Devil Tiger, Ves believed he may be able to achieve the same effect for his mech by tying the smart metal to the design spirit of the mech.
That\'s yet another assumption I have to put to the test. He muttered.
In short, A**AS was not only problematic to procure, but also difficult to replenish.
When smart metal mechs sustained damage, chunks of smart metal could easily be separated and thrown from the mech frames.
Sometimes, the separated A**AS could merge back into the mech, but if the nanomachines suffered too much damage, then the damaged mech could salvage only a little bit of exotics.
What is the point of using an A**AS mech when it can\'t repair itself anymore after a few months of battle
That was far from years of continuous use that the inventors of A**AS envisioned!
Fortunately, the proponents of this tech already devised a solution to this problem.
Perhaps the original exotics might be hard to source, but as long as someone shoveled a bunch of inferior substitute materials to the A**AS, then its volume could partially be restored.
It\'s only a substitute though.
Compared to factory-fresh A**AS, the substitute A**AS isn\'t nearly as good in processing and adapting different materials.
A**AS mechs had to maintain a minimum level of pure A**AS in order to retain all of its essential functionality.
After several generations of development, A**AS mechs got better and better at preserving pure A**AS.
Most of the time, it deployed substitute A**AS closer to the exterior of the mech.
The valuable pure A**AS would be sequestered deep in the core of the mech, only to be brought out once the fighting stopped in order to facilitate repairs.
Ves scratched his chin.
This is one way to make an A**AS mech more affordable.
Instead of turning sixty percent of the mech into pure A**AS, I can instead split that up.
Perhaps I can get by a tenth as much on the expensive kind of A**AS, while leaving the rest to substitute A**AS!
This potentially lowered the lifespan of the mech, but as long as the mech and mech pilot didn\'t suffer catastrophic damage, the pure A**AS could last for a very long time.
Ves knew because he already read about it before.
Some A**AS mechs lasted for as much as decades! With smarter use, the pure A**AS could last even longer!
This is a good basis for my Devil Tiger!
He made his decision.
Even if it was expensive to get his hands on a starter batch of pure A**AS, he had to do his best to obtain enough of it to form the basis of his tiger mech!
With this much pure A**AS and substitute A**AS, my Devil Tiger will become a true smart metal mech!
In order to realize his vision, he had to break one of his rules and spend an extravagant amount of money to obtain a few barrels worth of pure A**AS.
Nonetheless, just because he resorted to something expensive to solve a specific problem didn\'t mean he no longer faced any challenges regarding his design project.
Mech design was all about making the best use of the tech and materials at someone\'s disposal!
A good cook can turn cheap ingredients into a tasty meal.
A bad cook will make expensive ingredients taste bad!
As long as Ves made skillful use of the ingredients he obtained, the resulting \'meal\' tasted good regardless of the cost!
I have to be careful not to waste the ingredients. Ves furrowed his brows.
I don\'t even know if I can even obtain some in the Sentinel Kingdom.
The actual utility of A**AS technology had always been rather niche.
For the price of a single A**AS mech, a mech buyer might as well buy ten regular mechs instead that performed just as well!
Ves considered whether he should just beg Gloriana to help him obtain the necessary amount of pure A**AS.
He shook his head.
I don\'t want to owe her any more than I already do.
There ought to be a way for me to get the A**AS on my own.
For now, he pushed the matter aside.
He still had a long way to go before he finished the design.
A few hours went by as Ves continued to sketch and fill in some of the details of his draft design.
His artistic inclination came to the fore.
He tweaked the external appearance of his mech to convey its devilish, double-edged nature.
The Devil Tiger is a predator! It\'s a mech purely designed to kill!
The predominant shade of his devil tiger was red.
Along with its sharp black tiger stripes, the mech looked like a beast that had clawed itself straight out of hell!
The snarling maw, the sharp and unnerving tail, the devastating claws, the menacing contours and so on all contributed to a look that might one day inspire dread on the battlefield!
Best of all, its appearance can change over time!
Due to the properties of A**AS, the shape and configuration of the Devil Tiger was not set in stone.
The materials it absorbed and the programming that Ves planned to convey would give the mech the option to choose its own evolution.
As for who got to decide how the mech evolved over time
Not the mech pilot!
Ves did not aim his mech at any specific mech pilot.
The Devil Tiger was all about the mech for once! Whoever got to pilot it was just a body to enable its design spirit to do what it wanted, including directing the evolution of the Devil Tiger!
Ah, but there\'s the rub.
Getting his hands on sufficient quantities of pure A**AS was one major challenge to his design project.
The second challenge was to form the right design spirit for his Devil Tiger!
Due to all of the demands he posed to his mech, he couldn\'t make do with self-constructed images! He had to resort to a potent spiritual fragment in order to make the choices he wanted his mech to make!
It has to be strong, at least as strong as the one I used for the Transcendent Messenger!
These kinds of design spirits were fairly difficult to come by.
He could probably make do if he obtained some kind of relic or other object that received a lot of worship in order to refine its spiritual accumulation into something useful.
I can\'t pick up any random object, though.
It has to be related to cat or tiger-like species!
This was a very specific demand! Ves didn\'t even know if such an object existed anywhere in this corner of the star sector!
There\'s got to be at least somewhere in the local region which worships tigers.
If that doesn\'t work, I\'ll just make do with something related to house cats if necessary! It\'s not like anyone will notice the difference!
Lucky would approve.
In fact, now that he thought about his pet, he wondered whether he could borrow some of Lucky\'s spirituality.
Ves quickly shook his head.
He\'ll claw my face off my head if I make that suggestion!
Aside from finding a spiritually-powerful cat-like creature or a totem object related to such species, Ves had few options to go on.
He planned to perform some very thorough research in the next few days to see if he could obtain a source for the Devil Tiger\'s design spirit.
It has to be strong! The stronger the source, the stronger the spiritual fragment! The stronger the fragment, the more expressive and lifelike my mech can get!
His Devil Tiger was destined to be a very deviant mech design.
Ves did not intend to implement all of the innovations he implemented in the Devil Tiger to his legal mech designs.
He merely wanted to test his assumptions and see how his theories fared in an extreme situation.
I have to make the most of this opportunity!
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