Internal Structure of Mortar Headd
Control System - A Mortar Headd’s Nerves
It need not be said that the control of a MH leaves all information management and support to the Fatima and all movement to the knight. Indeed, this division of responsibility can be called the foundation of the MH as a concept. The Fatima functions as the cerebrum, nervous system, and internal organs, while the knight is the cerebellum and the reflexes.
The Fatima Shell refers to the Fatima cockpit located in the head; wrapped in heavy armor, the shell is rarely damaged. From the back of the shell the Fatima’s control travels along the keel to be transmitted to the various drive lines and sensory apparatus.
In addition to the standard boarding hatch, the shell’s floor also houses a small hatch leading along the throat down to the knight’s cockpit. In this way the Fatima cockpit and the knight’s cockpit are connected. The connecting passage between Fatima and knight is called the "Promenade". While the passage is narrow, it remains sufficient for even large-framed knights to ascend to the Fatima room. Though probably not Kesagi of Bachtgma. The floor hatch is not present on etriml-equipped units.
During space combat the promenade is obviously mounted with a throat cover, but under normal circumstances it is left open; examining a MH’s throat gives a clear view of the keel on the other side! Moving Fatimas can be seen transiting the back of the throat, and will occasionally pop out from under the jaw to give greetings.
When asked why this area is unarmored, Sopp responded with "Well, if you’re getting attacked here then something is already going very wrong, and it doesn’t happen much anyway so there’s really no point in armoring it." It seems clear that there is no real meaning in adding armor here. Obviously, both the Fatima shell’s floor and the knight cockpit’s ceiling hatches are heavily sealed and remain closed under normal circumstances.
The knight’s cockpit has been touched upon several times before, but this is a good opportunity to show a diagram of its arrangement. To capture the knight’s movements and transmit force values to the MH, control devices are positioned about the entire body. Unlike an automobile or fighter jet, there are no gauges or controls for support systems; the setup is dedicated entirely to personal movement and viewing range.
Head movement is tracked by the helmet or backrest and that movement is transmitted precisely to the MH, whose corresponding head movement is then reflected in the monitor display. Similarly, a leg brought up to advance the MH returns appropriate feedback of the MH foot’s impact upon bedrock. The knight is then made aware by this feedback of his footing upon hard bedrock or soft turf; the sinking of the MH’s feet into soft ground indicates how well it will stand up to the MH’s weight, and the knight can then feel this response as if it were his own body.
Slashing at a hardened MH in combat will result in impact feedback directly to the knight’s arms, as will blocking enemy attacks. While these passive combat impacts are buffered before reaching the knight, active counters such as Aisha’s sudden left arm thrust against König’s sword in volume 8 [p.55, English #18 p.51] do not engage the impact dampening clutch, and the full sword impact is reflected in the feedback. Knights receiving unfiltered feedback have been known to dislocate or even break bones. Called "backlash", this is an unfortunate demerit of the MH’s complete movement tracing control system.
Still, this demerit is essential to the concept of MH movements mimicking one’s own, and is left in for that reason. For example, if a MH receives an attack that takes off its head or something of that nature, then the knight must evade or in the worst case he might die of his own neck being snapped, though this rarely occurs. In most cases, losing the head would tear apart the appropriate feedback circuits before it would be able to get that far, so knights are generally not expected to die with their machines. The same applies to the loss of arms and legs. The damage to Jabo’s gloves and the knees of her tights in volume 3 [p.171, English #8 p.51] are also due to receiving direct combat feedback.
The knight’s movements are directly traced by the MH with the fatima providing support to those movements. That is, the fatima can only control the MH after the knight has acted. Essentially, the fatima can not make corrections to the knight’s movements, excepting in the case that the MH is already incapable of fully responding to them. Basically, when the MH is being tuned or when combat damage has required broken sections to switch to backup systems.