Chapter 7 – The Childhood Friend Battle, Part 3

“The personal rig is needed for a fight tomorrow and so is a school model, hurry back to the workshop once you’re done.”

If not for the set up being far easier than he had been expecting, Jeff would have cried on receiving that text. Another reason he took that news well was because Deborah and Jeff had already gone home, leaving once school hours were over. It seemed that Deborah wasn’t the kind of teacher that was willing to work outside of hours, yet she somehow was still able to get her work done. That might have an impact to the quality of her teaching, but it still irritated Jeff that people like that could exist while he was spending his evening on unpaid overtime.

The reason why the set up wall simple to do, was because of Satou’s unrealistic expectations. He was an admirer of a pilot called Sara Campbell, who stopped flying before he was even born. The problem was, Satou didn’t really know enough about rigs to understand why Sara was so unique, and focused on her adaptability. He seemed to think that he could use his high DC to allow the rig’s sensors to compensate for any issues he’d have. For a competent and well trained pilot, that would definitely be the case. But then, a competent pilot often didn’t need to rely on that, and had experience to go off of, instead. Since he wanted a stripped back model that could be easily refitted, Jeff wasn’t going to complain.

From the ground up, the pit crew strategy wasn’t a very good plan. The main issues with it was so obvious that even the newest of mechanist could notice it. In order to make the rig easily refittable, the connections would always be weaker. That meant a true defence build would be impossible, with the joints giving out well before the armour does. The expandable thrusters were also an issue that didn’t work; speed builds required peak energy efficiency and the connection between the initial and expanded were some of the least efficient parts ever designed for a rig. Both of those issues combined meant that an attack build wasn’t going to work either. Heavy weapons need increased strength, and external strength parts would often shatter weak joints. They also consumed almost as much energy as thrusters. That these issues were so obvious should have been a give away to the real reason for Sara’s success.

Simply put, Sara Campbell was a cheat. She might not have even noticed it herself, since it was one of the best kept secrets in the world of professional rig sports. It had to do with the identity of the mechanist that she worked with, an identity that was always left hidden from the public. When Jeff first started his degree, and realised that the pit crew method shouldn’t have worked, he was enchanted by the mysterious, shadowy figure, that somehow solved on of the great challenges of rig mechanical science and retired without revealing how it was done; choosing the success of their country over personal fame.

That inspired him to search through the International Body for Rig Science’s database for any trace of their identity. The body monitored everything mechanist and parts dealers did, and recorded everything with several redundancies. It was something that made his job far more annoying than it needed to be, but it also made completely erasing history nearly impossible. Although everything that directly revealed Sara’s mechanist’s identity was scrubbed clean, Jeff had been able to trace parts they used and cities they went to, among other things, to work out the university they went to. From their, he had tracked down everyone that graduated within a the time frame he was looking at, till he found only one possibility.

Alicia B. Kaya, first daughter of Erin Kaya, the inventor of rig technologies and the sole creator of rig cores. That was who Sara’s mechanist was. From that, it was easy to understand exactly how she was able to make the pit crew method work, she used her authority to overwrite the anti-tampering and direct the energy normally used for that into holding the pieces secure and powering through inefficiency. While Sara was evidently a very skilled pilot, her greatest advantage was actually 25% more energy than her opponent.

After Jeff made that discovery, he was contacted by the body, and made to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The method he used was also wiped clean. If someone else were to try the same, they would find nothing. The matter was considered a part of international security, the sport had global and that kind of cheating could be very damaging to its reputation, and the trust that countries placed in it to conduct their bets. It was at that point that Jeff stopped caring about the ideals that the sport could stand for. He had seen how the sausages were made, and all that was left was to profit from their sale.

That was why he didn’t bother trying to change Satou’s mind. That kid was still idealistic and believed that he could recreate his idol’s technique. Some people might like telling children there’s no santa, but Jeff wasn’t one of them. He wasn’t paid enough, nor did he care enough, to help others out of their decisions. It did kind of surprise him the Deborah had supported his choice. That was until he realised what she probably intended. She didn’t need him to be successful. In fact, the more successful he was, the more chances there were for him to be snatched away. If he failed as a pilot it would be easier for her to swoop in and have his children. Although that attitude wasn’t uncommon with pilots, she seemed to take it a little too far.

Her plan wouldn’t work, any way. Even if he had the wrong idea, and had little chance of winning as a professional, his raw specs would probably be enough to work his way to the top of the school. Graduating at the top of the leader board was enough that he would at least make it onto a team; once there, he would be scouted by some more talented seductress and Deborah would have missed her chance. That was at least how Jeff saw it.

Once that pair left, Jeff’s progress went a lot more smoothly; not having to stop every few minutes to clean up a mess they made. He felt bad for Jared, who would have to start his tests from scrap, since they somehow managed to delete the data. By about ten thirty, he finished setting up, and made his back to his own workshop. He left the rig in the lab to compile the code, and dismissed moving it as a problem for his future self to deal with. Better yet, a problem for Sam’s future self to deal with.

In the workshop, Jared was approaching a stage where he could probably only need another hour and a half to finish. That was a convenient time, since Jeff could probably finish setting up for the school model in that time also. As a student that hadn’t suddenly transferred in, Sachiko’s rig data was still stored on the school network from the previous year, so it was a lot easier to use a template from that and adjust it to her current growth. It was the basic process they followed for every student before a fight, just pulled forward. Since the adjustment were routine, most of the work was making sure that the physical rig was free of defects, and adjusting the power receiver to match the arena the fight would be in. After that, they just paired the core rig with the school rig, so that the core rig wouldn’t start with more power without the pilot telling it to.

With the work done, an hour and fifteen minutes later, they left the shop with the code doing its thing. When they arrived in the morning, they would be done and could be sent to the arena to have the fighters undo their work. Saying goodnight to his co-worker, Jeff returned home. Before he went to bed, he remembered that Sam would be going on her break around that time, so he sent her a message, updating her about the work.

“Hey, we somehow managed to get them done. I’ll leave transporting them up to you.”

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