The Mech Touch (Web Novel)
Chapter 3159: Untapped Manpower

Ves never thought that something as simple as the currency used to make transactions could have such a profound effect on the clan.

Since he was primarily a mech designer who frequently brushed with danger, Ves mostly paid attention to the military and production aspects of his clan. As a result, the way it developed up to this point was disproportionately slanted towards productivity and military force.

Was this a bad development? Ves didn't think so. In the early days, the Larkinson Clan urgently needed to grow stronger. The best and most direct way to do that was to focus on increasing the clan's income, bolstering the internal production capabilities of the clan and most importantly expanding its military might.

The downside to this constant focus on production, business, self-sufficiency and defense was that a lot of other priorities never really gained the attention they deserved. There were other leaders and decision makers in the clan, but their authority was not high enough and their expertise was not always remarkable.

The reforms that were still in the process of transforming the Larkinson Clan changed all of that. The addition of a lot of newly-appointed officials meant that there were finally people in the clan who could address all of those issues that Ves never thought about.

Since Raymond wanted to do it right, he was far from ready to establish a central bank, let alone have it issue the clan's new legal tender. It would take many months before the right people were put in place to set up a good structure for the new currency.

"Our currency can even become something more in the future." The oldest man in the room revealed one of his ambitions. "While there are risks involved, if we can make it circulate among the other states and organizations in the Red Ocean, we can derive an immense amount of economic benefits from this circumstance."

Ves looked incredibly skeptical. "What reason would others adopt our currency? Won't they be looking to do the same thing as us? I seriously doubt that our currency will become relevant to outsiders unless we engage in transactions or something, but even then we'll probably pay in Terran or Rubarthan coins."

"That is why we need to anchor our currency in something unique and valuable. We happen to have both in spades. For example, if you have become good in designing powerful and unique mechs that can only be produced in our fleet, we can demand our customers pay in our money rather than other currencies."

"Won't our customers simply change their foreign currencies into our own before transacting as normal? It sounds like we haven't gained much except for an opportunity to rip off our customers through manipulating fees and exchange rates."

"The actual implications of this change are far more than that, Ves, but I suppose I am getting ahead of myself. We should revisit this topic in a decade once we have managed to find our footing in the Red Ocean."

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Raymond Billingsley-Larkinson came up with other ideas, some of which had to do with the LMC and others which affected other parts of the clan. They were less impactful than introducing a new currency, so Ves quickly lost interest.

Soon, Ves directed his attention to Magdalena Larkinson. She had developed a couple of ideas as well, but none of them were extreme. One proposal was to allow the older mech cadets to intern in various different mech legions. This not only allowed the future mech pilots to know what to expect, but also helped them with deciding which elite mech troop suited them best.

"We should also be setting up a proper military reserve." The former commander of the Living Sentinels proposed. "There have been numerous incidents in the past where we have suffered heavy losses and couldn't get back up to strength fast enough. Since it is a lot more dangerous to remain understrength in regions such as the Red Ocean, we need to make preparations beforehand so that we will be able to bounce back in the event we have suffered significant losses."

Now this was a good suggestion! In a frontier region like the Red Oceans, friends were hard to come by and order was still nonexistent in many zones. Any fleet that roamed the dwarf galaxy had to maintain their strength at all cost or risk getting swamped by other rivals!

"Where will we find the additional manpower?" Ves asked.

"Well, we have a growing pool of retired and partially-disabled veterans." She said. "I've talked with the Lifer biotech experts over at the Dragon's Den, and they told me that they can apply many treatments and augments that can mitigate a lot of common injury and age-related ailments. As long as we invest in our retired mech pilots, they can regain enough fighting capability to fight once more if necessary."

Ves was not completely ignorant about this topic. As a mech designer, it was mandatory for him to know what kind of people were suitable to pilot certain kinds of mechs.

"The ability for older and severely injured mech pilots to interface with a mech once again is quite difficult to restore, at least from what I have learned. The act of mech piloting is not only a mental but also a physical burden. The reason why so many older and badly-injured mech pilots are forced to retire is because their brains have sustained a lot of wear and tear, either through decades worth of piloting mechs or undergoing a traumatic experience where they felt the deaths of their own machines."

He should know, as his own grandfather was among this group. Benjamin Larkinson used to hold the title of Venerable, but after suffering a defeat during one of the battles of the Bright-Vesia Wars, he had lost virtually all of his extraordinary capabilities.

It was a rather sad outcome for a once-promising expert pilot. The fact that Benjamin was unable to maintain his force of will to this day signified that this crippling had likely collapsed his will for battle.

Fortunately, the Larkinson Family's support structure provided him with enough warmth and love to find meaning past his military service.

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Chief Minister Magdalena looked pensive. "The Lifers have conducted some preliminary studies on this, and it is indeed true that our retired veterans will not come close to returning to their peak. Their effective genetic aptitude grade will probably range between D and E. Perhaps we'll find a number of exceptions who can achieve a C-grade, but those will be the exception rather than the rule."

Ves crossed his arms and thought about it. In many second-rate states, young potentates who received a score of D or lower weren't even allowed to attend a mech academy. While there were a lot of them, they simply weren't worth the effort to train and bring into service.

Even if a military organization implemented a rotation for mechs, it was still prohibitively expensive and troublesome to make sure that each trained mech pilot had the opportunity to pilot a machine.

It was far too expensive to produce a lot of mechs and assign them to awful mech pilots who could easily be defeated.

Yet.. the Larkinson Clan's situation was not identical to other states. The demand for sufficient manpower in a place where it was a lot more difficult to poach mech pilots from other others meant that there might come a time where the clan needed to rely on these old and infirm veterans to hold the line!

"As long as these medical treatments aren't too costly, I guess it might be worth it to increase the readiness of this group." Ves commented. "However, there is a very major shortcoming to this plan. If we end up in a scenario where we have just survived a difficult battle, then we not only lost a lot of lives, but also a lot of mechs. With the way our fleet is configured, we don't have a lot of room for spare mechs that we can just stockpile and bring out whenever there are vacancies."

Magdalena already had an answer for that. "We have the Spirit of Bentheim, and in the future we will likely expand our fleet with other mech-producing vessels. As long as our stock of materials is sufficient, we should quickly be able to pump out a lot of new mechs."

"What if your assumption is wrong?"

"As long as we are able to secure the original battle site, we should quickly be able to salvage the broken debris and reprocess them into materials that we can use to quickly fabricate new mechs. Quality isn't important and it shouldn't matter too much if we can't obtain all of the necessary materials. We just need to expand our numbers as fast as possible so that our mech legions look substantial again, so we shouldn't hesitate to kludge something together even if the resulting mech doesn't resemble one of our original designs."

"Even if we do that, our reservists aren't strong enough to utilize our Larkinson mechs effectively. Even the Bright Warrior, which is our most basic model, is actually an advanced second-class mech that requires a mech pilot substantial training as well as a high minimum genetic aptitude in order to perform well."

One of the core mech doctrines of the Larkinson Army was elite development. The Larkinson fleet simply didn't have enough space to carry a lot of mechs on its ships, so instead the clan focused on making the most out of the limited slots available. This prompted Ves to design premium mechs that were considerably more powerful than a typical second-class mech.

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He did so with the confidence that most if not all of the current mech pilot roster was trained and skilled enough to control these powerful machines. The recruiters had always maintained high standards of recruitment. Mech pilots with genetic aptitudes that were too low to pilot the current edition of the Bright Warrior simply couldn't go any further!

Now that Ves potentially had to consider the needs of a lot of previously-disqualified mech pilots who could barely go back in the saddle, he suddenly realized that he didn't even have a design ready for these reservists.

"If we want to be ready to activate the reservists, then we need to pair them with mechs that even the worst of them can pilot and become effective on the battlefield."

"How about a frontline mech? If you aren't able to design one yourself, then we should look into licensing one or borrowing one from the Hexers." Magdalena suggested.

"No." Ves immediately spat out. "We are not going to rely on the products of others. It's not necessary and not desirable. If we want to do a good job, we have to do it ourselves."

They quickly discussed the requirements of a potential Larkinson frontline mech model.

In order to serve the clan well in a crisis under difficult circumstances, it had to be quick and simple to fabricate. If Ves pared down the complexity of a second-class mech to its bare essentials, it might be possible for a production line to pump out a frontline mech within 24 hours.

This was already three to four times faster than usual!

Ves just gained a good idea. "Aside from that, by designing this frontline mech ourselves, we can reuse materials and even whole components that are used to make our other Larkinson mechs! This will allow us to quickly replenish our strength as long as we maintain control over the debris field at the end of the battle."

The more he thought about it, the more it sounded like a great idea. Though it wasn't certain whether the Larkinson Clan would ever have to resort to this measure, Ves wanted to have a complete contingency plan in place in case the worst had happened.

"Designing a basic frontline mech should not be difficult. It might even be an interesting exercise!"

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The Mech Touch (Web Novel) Chapter 3159: Untapped Manpower
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