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Chapter 1961 Lack of Progress

The Mech Touch
     Chapter 1961 Lack of Progress

    After Ves and Gloriana moved to the Scarlet Rose, they were eager to commence their new project.

    The next day, they moved down to the mech workshop compartment which had undergone a lot of changes.

    Aside from blocking off Compartment G-13, the compartment also featured an expanded design lab with several more amenities that were useful in the mech design process.

    Their two design teams awaited the arrival of the lead designers with deference. As soon as Ves and Gloriana entered the workshop, their subordinate mech designers bowed!

    Welcome back, Mr. Larkinson!

    Ves smiled and gestured them upwards. Rise. You don't need to perform these kinds of rituals for me. As long as you perform your duties earnestly, that's all I ask of you. As mech designers, it's our work that proves our sincerity.

    Once his subordinates rose, Ves observed them very carefully.

    A month had passed since he last interacted with them. A lot had happened during this period, and Ves was curious whether his mech designers were still as eager to work for the LMC as before.

    He already got a read of the Tovar mech designers. Because he hadn't told them whether they were allowed to remain in the company, the Tovars looked eager but nervous.

    Unless they were very good actors, Miles Tovar and the rest actually looked afraid of getting dismissed!

    Though Ves wasn't sure whether he should trust his judgement, the sight nonetheless pleased him. He became a bit more inclined to retain them. While they weren't the best subordinates he could obtain these days, he was very satisfied with their foundation and work ethic.

    He directed his attention to the second design team.

    As expected, all four Ylvainan mech designers decided to stay. Oscar, Renee, Erica and Pascal were all sincere believers in the Bright Martyr!

    However, considering how extensively the True Ylvaine Dynasty infiltrated his ranks, Ves wasn't sure of their loyalties.

    Are any of you True Believers?

    No. Oscar DiMartin answered. None of us worship the Living Prophet. We… don't think he represents the founder of our faith.

    The other three Ylvainans shook their heads as well.

    Are you telling the truth?

    We would never lie to the Bright Martyr!

    Ves could buy that. With his near-deified status among the Ylvainans, they shouldn't be able to lie in his face!

    After asking a few more questions to the Ylvainans, he turned his attention to the last two oddballs.

    Mayer Torto and Merrill O'Brian no longer stood out from the Ylvainans anymore. They used to regard Ves as a very good but very human mech designer.

    Now, their expressions were hardly different from that of the worshipful Ylvainans!

    I'm sorry for all of the dangers you've endured. He said.

    Merrill smiled. You don't have to apologise, sir. I've experienced worse in.. my old job.

    It's a given that the Friday Coalition wants to target the two of you after you received your Masterwork certificates. Mayer added his own voice.

    The Sentinel mech designer was honest, at least. Mayer mainly stuck around because he wanted to work under bona fide masterwork mech designers!

    Ves appreciated his frank reasoning. It allowed him to tailor his expectations to Mayer and avoid any unfortunate misunderstandings with regards to his willingness to remain under his employ.

    Overall, he was pretty happy with his design teams. While he wouldn't shed a tear if any of them decided to quit, he would certainly miss their contributions!

    Before we announce our latest mech design project, I would like to talk to each of you in private.

    As Gloriana kept everyone occupied, Ves invited the mech designers to a private office one by one. He wanted to hear how they were faring and what they thought of recent events.

    He started with Miles Tovar. The Apprentice Mech Designer fidgeted in his seat once they entered the office.

    Seeing him so tormented by uncertainty prompted Ves to soften his expression.

    Let me be honest. He began. I still haven't decided whether I should retain you and your fellow Tovars.

    I'm aware that our political situation isn't very convenient. Miles meekly responded.

    The disparity in status between them had grown significantly. Ves was not just an ordinary Journeyman anymore. Despite his age, he achieved something that evoked envy in almost every professional in the mech industry!

    The good news is that I don't really care about the opinion of the Bright Republic these days. I'm concerned what the government will do to your Tovar Family, though. I don't want to be the cause of the downfall of another family of our state!

    Miles offered a reassuring smile to Ves. There is absolutely no need for concern. My fellow Tovars and I are already exiled from the family.

    That didn't stop the Friday Coalition from coming after my unconnected relatives in the Bright Republic.

    To be honest, Mr. Larkinson, that won't happen. Our Tovar Family is too intertwined with the institutions of the Bright Republic. Unlike your Larkinson Family, our removal will instantly throw the Bright Republic into chaos. The CRC can hardly provoke another mass uprising like the one that rose up in the Ylvaine Protectorate. The Fridaymen have already attracted a lot of alarm due to their recent actions. They can hardly afford to provoke more trouble for fear of getting admonished by the MTA.

    Ves didn't fully comprehend how the Tovar Family would be able to avoid getting Larkinsoned. Still, Miles sounded so confident in his family that Ves might be engaging in needless worry.

    If that is what you claim, then I don't have many more objections to keeping you in my employ. Just remember that as long as you are on the LMC payroll, your primary loyalty belongs to me and my mech company. The Tovar Family's interests come afterwards, especially now that you're exiled. Have I made myself clear?

    Crystal, sir. While I can't promise you that I will always be comfortable with that, I will make sure to bring any potential issues to your attention before they turn serious.

    That sounds good. I would rather prefer you to be honest to me up front. Do you know what I hate the most?

    No?

    Ves leaned forward and displayed an ominous grinned. The people I hate the most are traitors. It's unfortunate that I didn't have the chance to take care of the last person who betrayed me. He took his own life before my guards could restrain him. If not for that, I would have probably turned him into my test subject!

    Though Miles was obviously confused why a mech designer of all people required a test subject, he was astute enough to refrain from asking further.

    After Ves made it clear how generously he intended to treat traitors, he lightened up and directed his attention to Miles' professional development.

    I haven't been able to tutor you and instruct you as much as I wanted to in recent times. He said. That said, you should have still been able to manage your development on your own. How much progress have you made?

    I study every day. He said. While I don't have Miss Wodin's high-quality augmentations, my learning ability is well above average, or I wouldn't have graduated from the DCTI with my grades. While I'm not as fast as some, I'm very happy with how much I've been able to improve. I've even started to tackle some of the unlocked Clarion University books you've added to the library. While much of their material is too advanced to me, I'm a lot more confident in my foundation these days. My colleagues are just as happy.

    Ves nodded in satisfaction. That's good. Graduation doesn't mean your learning comes to an end. You are still close to the bottom of the mech industry totem pole. In order to make something of yourself in this business, you need to advance to Journeyman, and to do so you absolutely have to develop a certain level of mastery over the skills required to design a mech.

    I have done that, Mr. Larkinson. While I'm happy with how much knowledge I've gained, I'm still uncertain whether I have come closer to advancing to Journeyman. I could use your advice.

    Instead of answering immediately, Ves quickly studied Miles with his spiritual vision. While Miles was the only Tovar mech designer who possessed spiritual potential, it didn't seem to have developed since the last time he checked it out. This signified that Miles hadn't fully developed or committed to a design philosophy.

    Take it from me, Miles. Learning alone is not enough to elevate you to my rank. Even if your knowledge is rather lacking, you can still utilize what little you know to design a decent mech. The key is to develop your own style and figure out what exactly you wish to specialize in. Developing a design philosophy is not merely about picking your favorite flavor. You need to flesh out the reasons why you want to design a certain style of mechs.

    I did that, sir! For almost ten years, I dedicated myself to designing aerial mechs! I even narrowed the scope of my design philosophy even further upon the advice of a mentor, but I still haven't made any progress!

    Ves could sympathize with Miles. Despite his rich family background, mech designers mostly had to rely on themselves to become a Journeyman.

    It was impossible for someone incompetent to become a Journeyman! If he was wrong, he would let Gloriana dress him up!

    From my own understanding of the promotion process, Apprentices like you need to develop a strong conviction for your design philosophies. It's not just about knowing that your design philosophy has promise. You need to believe in it. You need to believe in your ambition.

    Miles frowned. I don't entirely understand.

    It's simple. Ves lifted his hand and tapped his temple. It's not just about your head.

    He tapped his chest. It's also about your heart. You need to devote yourself to your design philosophy as if it's your girlfriend. Love your design philosophy. Date your design philosophy. Marry your design philosophy. Sometimes, thinking too much is detrimental to this process. You need to offload some of the processes from your mind to your heart. It doesn't matter if your design philosophy sounds daunting or that it is almost inconceivable to realize it. As long as you believe in your design philosophy, you will be in the best state to break through your current bottleneck.

    Though his advice sounded earnest, Miles still began to frown.

    Respectfully, Mr. Larkinson, that.. sounds awfully close to religion. You are essentially asking me to treat my design philosophy as superstition.

    Ves blinked.

    I.. can see how you can develop such a misunderstanding. It's not as bad as it sounds. There is much more to mech design than is apparent on the surface. Part of the reason why high-ranking mech designers are so revered in the mech community is because their design work transcends what is strictly possible in reality. As long as you open your mind to the possibilities, I think you'll find it easier to find your heart in mech design. Do you know Ketis?

    I'm familiar with her. Miles nodded. I occasionally get in touch with her in order to talk shop.

    I guided her along this method. While I didn't explain my theory to her so straightforwardly, I believe she can become a promising Journeyman Mech Designer in time. Both of you are Apprentices, but I'm much more optimistic about her chances than yours. Unlike you, Ketis genuinely possesses a heart for swordsman mechs. Unless you can develop a similar degree of obsession for aerial mechs, I'm not sure you'll be able to remain ahead despite your age.

    Ketis was almost a decade younger than Miles. By all rights, Miles should be able to advance to Journeyman sooner than the former pirate designer, but right now Ves was not very optimistic!