Chapter 1966 Rim Avatar
So Hogan, as much as I'd like to float around in a fake galaxy a little longer, I was expecting a little more from the Rim Exchange. Could you lead me to the Merit Hall and other places on the platform?
[You are not ready to enter our platform in your current state, Mr. Larkinson.] The servile virtual android spoke. [As this is the first time you are entering our virtual portal, you must design your humanoid avatar which you will be using to interact with fellow associates and representatives of the Rim Guardians.]
Ves felt puzzled. So I'm not going to be visiting the Exchange in a copy of my own body?
[Correct. Here at the Rim Exchange, billions of Associates come together in one of our instanced virtual realities. Mech designers, mech pilots, industrialists and many other noteworthy people from across the galaxy are able to socialize and exchange with each other.]
So I'll be able to encounter someone who is separated a hundred-thousand light-years away from the Komodo Star Sector?
Hogan nodded his robotic head. [Technically, that is correct, though by default you will enter an instance that is mostly visited by your fellow associates in your star cluster. You have the option to transfer to a more cosmopolitan instance, but that is not recommended for Journeymen.]
It might be fun to talk to someone who lived on the other end of the galaxy, but the novelty quickly wore off after a time. Aside from conducting a shallow exchange, there was no point in collaborating with someone who was so physically distant.
Tell me more about these so-called avatars, Hogan. Could you show me some examples as well?
[Why certainly, Mr. Larkinson. Here is a random selection of Rim Avatars designed by your fellow associates.]
The android waved a hand, causing a carousel of a diverse selection of robotic, human-sized avatars to rotate past his view.
Many of them resembled androids like Delta-Gina and Gamma-Gamma-Hogan, but with much more sophistication in their designs.
Most of them were unclothed, preferring to bare their full technical brilliance to others.
Some of them adhered closely to the human form. Whether they were male or female, they looked human enough to pass off as one if not for their obvious technological appearances.
Others were a bit more creative. One looked like a robotic bear that learned how to walk upright, while another resembled a floating octopus that hovered above the ground using antigrav modules rather than its tentacles.
A substantial minority of avatars even took on the form of mechs on a smaller scale! These human-sized mechs were completely viable in reality. Aside from the lack of mech pilots, these mech-like Rim Avatars were obviously derived from the mech designed by their owners!
What impressed Ves the most about these avatars was that many owners used them as a canvas to express their creativity or send a message!
Some Rim Avatars resembled ancient, corroded relics that one might find in a centuries-old ruin.
Another brilliant avatar even seemed to have been designed according to steampunk principles, operating completely on steam rather than conventional electricity!
Ves didn't need to ask why the Rim Exchange enforced the use of these Rim Avatars.
At least in the case of mech designers, the names and appearances of their fellow colleagues weren't as important as their ability in mech design!
Showcasing their design style and design skill in the form of a personally-designed Rim Avatar provided much more information to others with just a single glance.
The avatar bodies that Hogan showed off all provided Ves with a wealth of information about their owners just by reading their designs!
Some owners were eager to advertise their full abilities. Others were more circumspect and deliberately designed Rim Avatars that revealed as little information about their identities, design styles and skill as possible!
He even encountered a few sloppy, low-effort Rim Avatars that were barely better than cleaning bots in terms of sophistication!
All in all, Ves understood that he could pick any form of Rim Avatar he wished, within certain limits. Rather than a straightforward demonstration of design prowess, the Avatars also functioned as a way to shape to other people's impression of himself.
Whether he wanted to attract attention from others or avoid it like the plague, his unique Rim Avatar would be able to facilitate either desires depending on his design choices!
What a fun game. Ves curled his non-existent lips into a smile. It's fitting that a platform that is mostly frequented by mech designers to adopt such a novel custom.
After Ves expressed a desire to design his own Rim Avatar, Hogan waved his robotic hand once again, transferring him to a virtual design studio.
[As a convenience, you do not need to fabricate the components of your Rim Avatar. Merely design your Avatar and its virtual incarnation will immediately appear in front of you. As a level 2 external associate of the Rim Guardian Fraternity, you have access to a slightly wider selection of materials and advanced components.]
I'm not level 1? Is that normal? What is this level structure?
[External associates rank from level 1 to level 10. Each new associate starts at level 1, which is the most basic level. It provides no discount on official goods and services offered by the Rim Guardians and your access to various facilities and amenities are subject to many restrictions. At level 2, you receive a 5 percent discount and gain various privileges. This pattern continues at higher levels until you reach level 10, which affords associates with a 45 percent discount on official goods and services as well as many other privileges.]
Forty-five percent! That was a massive discount, especially if that applied to fleet beyonder tickets and life-prolonging treatments!
However, Ves knew that the Rim Guardians weren't generous for nothing. Just like the MTA they hailed from, mech designers probably had to toil for centuries to reach the highest level!
How can mech designers reach a higher level of associate status?
[Certain critical missions offer a promotion in rank as an optional or base reward. You can also reach a higher level by advancing to Senior or Master or by making certain important achievements. The reason why you have been promoted to level 2 is because you have received a masterwork certificate. This is an achievement worthy of recognition.]
So that explained it. That was a pretty nice extra, since a 5 percent discount already shaved off 5 million MTA merits off the hefty price of a fleet beyonder ticket!
Well, let's start.
The design interface was virtually identical to that of a mech design software suite, though with various extra tools designed to cope with the smaller scale of the robotic avatars.
Ves had access to the public library of the MTA if he needed to look up on how to build a robot, and he even had the option of contacting some people if he needed advice or assistance.
He was too proud and confident to rely on others to design his Rim Avatar. He wanted it to become an expression of himself!
He saw no need to play any games and hide his identity behind a deceptive Rim Avatar. Insead, he wanted to translate his design style, his design philosophy and his other design-related traits in the form he chose to represent himself among the associates of the Rim Guardians!
Naturally, he would hold some characteristics back, but he was not afraid of showing other mech designers his distinctive design style!
Besides, anyone who looked up his mech designs would be able to view what he could do anyway.
Though Hogan mentioned that Ves had the option of hiding his identity, he didn't see the point in that. The Rim Exchange was a virtual reality that was fully under the control of the Rim Guardians. Privacy was an illusion and everything happened under the purview of the powerful organization!
As he directed his thoughts to his Rim Avatar, Ves briefly considered his options.
He didn't feel the need to be adventurous and design something that deviated from the human form. He first started drawing a line schematic that largely resembled his actual contours.
Now that he defined the shape and volume of his Rim Avatar, he began to design its internals
A humanoid robot was incredibly simple to make. However, it took a lot of skill and sophistication to design a robot that moved as cleverly as a human and functioned just as well in diverse environments.
Ves considered it a test of some sorts. Fortunately, with his knowledge and skill, developing a robot from the ground up was not a difficult task at all, especially now that he augmented his cognitive functions with his Archimedes Rubal implant!
He quickly designed the internals of his Rim Avatar in a matter of hours. Ves did the best he could in this span of time.
Due to the smaller size and scope of his design, Ves didn't have to spend nearly as much time as he would on a mech design!
While he hadn't made any adventurous design choices with regards to the internals, he made sure to design the inner structure in a way that was robust and reliable even if Ves hadn't subjected it to a lot of optimisation!
With regards to testing and optimisation, the virtual workshop offered many advanced features that quickly analyzed and tested the Rim Avatar's performance in an enormous range of conditions.
Ves saved a lot of days of tinkering with this service!
How powerful! This kind of assistance is invaluable in mech design!
Once he finished the internals, he devoted a lot of time to the externals, because that was the most obvious portion that others would judge his avatar.
He decided to unleash a bit of his creativity and go a little wild with regards to its external appearance. He adopted a bronze-like appearance that resembled Lucky's original metallic look. He spiced it up by adding some white and golden accents to the mech.
The Rim Avatar's appearance went past functional and started to adopt an artistic slant. Ves spent hours on fine-tuning the visual design of his Rim Avatar.
At the same time, he also concentrated his mind and tried to realize the vision he constructed in his mind!
As an extra element to his Rim Avatar, Ves wanted to convey a bit of his specialty in it by imparting it with a glow!
Ves didn't put his full effort into it, as he was well aware that the Rim Guardians were recording all of his actions as he worked.
He merely fell back to creating an image of himself and infused it with his own spiritual energy, making extra effort to emphasize his spiritual domain!
The glow that slowly formed inside his metallic bronze avatar began to radiate a subtle aura. Ves deliberately toned it down in order to avoid stirring up a huge amount of people.
Nonetheless, anyone who got close to him or caught his attention would definitely be able to feel that they were in the presence of someone remarkable!
The unique blend of life and mechs that came from his spiritual attributes permeated his increasingly more impressive Rim Avatar like a scent that never went away!
Though an artificial lifeform like Gamma-Gamma-Hogan probably felt nothing from his bronze Rim Avatar, other people would definitely be able to sense its glow!
This Avatar is missing something… Ah, how could I forget?!
Ves quickly modified the bald and shiny head structure in order to incorporate a soft-glowing third eye.
Different from the third eye of his mech designs, he decided to keep it oval in order to resemble a human eye shape.
Gloriana didn't have any involvement in designing this Rim Avatar, so Ves had no right to add her signature look to his creation.
Besides, Ves was afraid that he would be mistaken for an oppressed male Hexer if his Rim Avatar paraded a hexagon-shaped eye! Hogan had already mentioned to him that the default instance he was about to enter was frequented by many associates from the Komodo Star Sector!
After fine-tuning the visual glow of the third eye, Ves finally completed his work.
It took a few hours, but Ves was pretty proud of what he came up with. The design tools provided by the Rim Guardians certainly compensated for many of its shortcomings resulting from his haste!
[Have you completed your Rim Avatar, Mr. Larkinson?]
I have. Does my work meet the Rim Exchange's approval?
[It does. You may use it as your primary form when you enter one of our venues. Please keep in mind that you may also take control of a physical copy of your Rim Avatar when you visit one of our physical sites.]
Of course they would do something like that. The Rim Guardians could easily materialize his work in a second and deconstruct afterwards when Ves was done his business!
Alright, let's go!
[Before you enter the Exchange, you must bestow your work with a name. This will also be your public pseudonym in the Rim Exchange.]
Ves was too impatient to think up something clever. He had enough with these diversions!
Just call it Lifegiver—, no wait, call it Apollo! Now let me enter!
A pseudonym like 'Lifegiver' veered uncomfortably close to the Five Scrolls Compact! It was better to pick something more bland like the name of a god!
Unfortunately, he hit a snag that was common to many people who wanted to register a name.
[That particular pseudonym is already taken by a fellow associate.]
[That particular pseudonym is already taken by a fellow associate.]
[That particular pseudonym is already taken by a fellow associate.]
You stupid bot! Call it Apollo Radiant, I'm sure that's not taken yet! Now let me in already!
[Your Rim Avatar is officially registered as 'Apollo Radiant'. Please stand by for transfer.]