49 The Aquatic Maid
I look at the hologram of the Maid of Orléans and began to work. First thing I did was to do a search. The Maid is a Battlesuit that was easy to modify and that is both a bane and a boon for designers like me. The ease of modification means that I shall have an easier time redesigning it but at the time, I need to worry about the work of other designers.
The Maid is about a hundred years old and is an iconic Battlesuit. It must have hundreds of variations and I can't be the first person to think of changing it to a Scout Battlesuit. I used Dive to call up all the variations of the Maid that could be classified as scouts and over thirty Battlesuits appeared on screen. The number was lower than what I thought it would be. Guess the fact that the Maid was a Clockwork suit actually worked in my favor. I looked through all the Scout Battlesuits and was impressed with what I found.
Most designers doing a Scout variation of the Maid emphasis the speed of the Battlesuit but there were a few designers who thought differently. A few added modern sensors like radar and echolocation, some added stealth options, and one even tried to change the Maid into a Battlesuit for underwater reconnaissance. The last designer got my immediate attention. A quick check told me that the underwater variant was considered a failure but I have to applaud the designer for his audacity. Change a land-based Battlesuit to operate underwater? Even with the help of the System, I would not dare to do that…would I?
Of course not! There are so many things I would need to look into. The Battlesuit would need to deal with deep sea pressure if it need to go deep underwater; I would need to attach an air tank; I would need to look into ways to propel the Battlesuit underwater. Wait a minute, the last question is easy. The Maid is using Clockwork Technology and I already used propellers for The Decimator. Can the RB Pack be used underwater?
I went to the website of the RB Pack and to my pleasant surprise found that the rotor backpack can be used underwater. It seems that sometimes movie scripts requires villains to escape underwater! Laughing at that, I decided to do a more detailed check on the underwater variant of the Maid. Even if it was a failure, it doesn't hurt to look and the idea was so strange I just have to check it out.
Called The Aquatic Maid, the variant was designed to be a one-man underwater Battlesuit. As an exoskeleton, the Maid of Orléans does not enclosed the operator so the designer decided to design the Aquatic Maid into a version of a scuba suit. He reinforced the structure of the Battlesuit to better handle underwater pressure and installed an underwater propeller system. Two medium-sized propeller fans placed on the back of the Battlesuit to move the Battlesuit underwater. The Aquatic Maid also comes with some sort of modern scuba headgear that has a communication unit and it's own air supply. Even though it doesn't run on Clockwork Technology, the headgear doesn't affect the operation of the Battlesuit as it doesn't connect to the Maid in any way. Small propellers on the feet and hands help the Aquatic Maid do small maneuvers.
After the look through, I was even more impressed. Although I have limited experience with underwater Battlesuits, the Aquatic Maid looks to be a fine Battlesuit. It was fully operational and seems quirky enough to find an audience, so why was it considered a failure? Intrigued by the question, I look through the comments left by the buyers of the Aquatic Maid.
They were surprisingly good. Most buyers seem to enjoy operating the Battlesuit and lovers of Clockwork Technology especially love it. Most buyers seems to buy it for leisure with a majority of the buyers using it for long range scuba diving. The problem for the Battlesuit lies in the competition. Simply put, there are just better products on the market.
The Aquatic Maid is a fine product but unless you are a lover of Clockwork Technology, you would probably bypass it for other Battlesuits that were available. For all it's strength, the Aquatic Maid is a variant of a land-based Battlesuit. That comes with a certain sense of baggage. When faced with an option between an authentic underwater Battlesuit and the Aquatic Maid, most buyers would naturally pick the authentic underwater Battlesuit.
I could understand the thinking behind this. If I have to choose between a land-based variant of an underwater Battlesuit and an authentic land-based Battlesuit, I would naturally pick the land-based Battlesuit unless there is something truly amazing about the variant.
The Aquatic Maid also suffers from what we in the business called 'the curse of the variant'. Making a variant solves a lot of problems for designers but it's not a free pass. Designing a variant means that the designer is restricted by the base design but at the same time, designers need to change it enough that it is both different and better than the original. However no matter how good the variant is, it will almost never escape the shadow of the original. My Jumpbot is a perfect example. It is a good Battlesuit that improves on the Steambot but till this day, some people insist that my Battlesuit is nothing but a pale imitation of the Steambot. No amount of argument can convince these people so most people, including me, don't even try. The Aquatic Maid faced this same problem and then some because as an underwater Battlesuit, it operates in a totally different environment from the original.
So the Aquatic Maid is one of those Battlesuits that is good but unable to find a market due to various outside factors. It was a pity. Looking at the Battlesuit, I can't help but think what a waste it was. The designer had almost got it. He had a good idea and designed a perfectly good Battlesuit. If he had only added in a few more things, I believe that the Aquatic Maid would have been a hit.
With that realization, my mind began to wander and I asked myself what I would do in his situation. Outside a weapon system, the Aquatic Maid had everything an underwater Battlesuit is supposed to have. Adding a weapon would help but it probably wouldn't help the Battlesuit's popularity too much. It needed something else. It needed something that gives it a little prestige. Something with a little panache. Something…transformative?