Chapter 1968 Business Alliances
Granada Prime was an instance of the Rim Exchange centered around the three star sectors of Komodo, Vicious Mountain and Majestic Teal.
As Gamma-Gamma-Hogan continued to guide Ves around the stunning cityscape that would fit right at home in a first-rate state, they traversed from one end of the open districts to the other end. They paused at various notable structures along the way, each of which offered various goods and services that couldn't be found elsewhere outside the Mta!
The various venues offered dazzling offerings that focused a lot on enhancing the capabilities of mech pilots and mech designers. Ves encounter a dizzying selection of high-class implants, superior gene mod templates and even personal tutoring sessions from Masters!
His Rim Avatar's three eyes stared obsessively at some of the most valuable offerings. Certain products such as advanced gene optimization treatments, auto designer mainframes and materializers could completely transform his life and boost his productivity to insane levels!
Yet as soon as a popup box appeared in his view, he couldn't help but wince and regretfully turn his robotic avatar's head away.
All of these products vastly exceeded his budget!
Some products were easier to obtain than others because they were priced in both credits and merits. The latter was very difficult to obtain, but the former was just a question of wealth.
As long as someone's daddy was rich enough, it was still possible to purchase a materializer without slaving away on behalf of the Rim Guardians!
It's pointless, though.
A single materializer may be a fine machine to someone like Gloriana who specialized in custom mechs, but the cost did not outweigh the benefits.
The amount of money required to purchase the lowest-quality materializer was enough to purchase a couple of planets!
Mech designers were better off investing in a high-quality mech manufacturing complex or a well-equipped factory ship.
Other products failed to convey enough value in his opinion. The Rim Exchange may have made more of the MTA's exclusive products available to its associates, but their prices were hardly lower!
It's all about the discount. Ves realized over the course of his tour.
The discount an associate could obtain was vitally important. As a mech designer continued to increase his value and contribute to the Rim Guardians, their associate level rose, thereby lowering the prices of the products offered by the fraternity by increments of 5 percent.
It was not that difficult to obtain a couple of levels. However, the further you rose, the harder it was to reach the next threshold!
Yet leveling up was very much worth it in the long term. The Rim Guardians offered a near-global discount on all of its products and services at higher levels of associate status.
Right now, Ves was merely level 2, but he already obtained a 5 percent discount on every offering, including the fleet beyonder ticket that he had always been aiming for since the start of the new generation!!
The one caveat to the discount was that it didn't apply to goods and services offered by other associates and third-parties. The Rim Guardians generally didn't meddle with private transactions unless the associates paid a lot of merits to guarantee the contract.
This meant that if Ves got scammed, he only had himself to blame!
[Higher levels of associate status also conveys other perks.] Hogan robotically explained as they passed through a widely-frequented avenue. A lot of Rim Avatars paused and stared at Apollo Radiant's bronze-like form as they became affected by its subtle but alluring glow. [At level 2, 4 and 6, you gain access to increasingly higher qualities of exotics that you can apply to your Rim Avatar. At level 10, you may even invent materials that do not exist in reality!]
That wasn't as valuable as the discount those higher levels offered. Still, Ves could see the value in upgrading the Rim Avatar.
More expensive and impressive ones always attracted a lot of attention. Just like how great clothing could improve someone's image, a more sophisticated Rim Avatar could instantly command attention!
Ves had encountered plenty of scenes where a level 4 or a level 6 associate attracted dozens of lower-leveled mech designers!
The Rim Exchange was not just a venue for trade. It was also a platform for cooperation.
Every mech designer who was able to enter the Rim Exchange consisted of some of the best and most talented mech designers of their respective star sectors. No one who managed to earn the approval of the Rim Guardians were average!
These talented and capable mech designers weren't interested in collaborating with the riffraff of their states. They were much more interested in combining their strengths with equals!
To foster partnerships and collaborations, certain associates purchased real estate at Granada Prime and other instances in order to start a club.
These clubs adopted various forms, but Ves noted that most of them adopted a model similar to that of the Clifford Society.
The more senior members of the clubs or associations offered various rewards to the lower ranks. All the junior members needed to do was to contribute to the club.
Ves wasn't very attracted to these associations. He was very much aware that the clubs were mostly set up to enrich the associates at the top. The lower ranks were mostly treated as slaves or free labor.
Still, plenty of Journeymen and other lower-leveled associates seemed to take part in these clubs, particularly if they offered market access or extensive collaborations in major design projects.
Hogan pointed at one of the virtual headquarters at the side of the street. [Many of our associates join together to form business alliances. It is well worth it to apply to join these business alliances. If you are an entrepreneur, then the market access, opportunities for collaboration and frequent exchanges are very beneficial to your progression. According to one of our studies, associates who have joined a business alliance or comparable cooperative organization have advanced from Journeyman Senior 34.5362342332 percent higher than associates who have declined to follow suit.]
That was quite a hefty difference, but Ves knew that Hogan was only mentioning this fact because the Rim Guardians wanted him to partner up with other associates.
The more the associates worked together, the more the Rim Guardians benefited! Aside from deriving more profit out of them, partnerships and alliances also fostered more closeness to the Rim Guardians!
Though Ves saw a lot of benefits in joining these organizations, for now he reserved his judgement. A part of him felt that he could already get everything he wanted from the Rim Exchange alone.
Their tour eventually came to an end when Gamma-Gamma-Hogan guided his Rim Avatar to the foot of a tall structure known as the merit hall.
[The merit hall is the primary source of MTA merits to associates. The Rim Guardians offer many different missions, each of which reward its takers with varying amounts of MTA merits and other rewards.]
How many merits do these missions reward on average?
[That varies wildly between mission issuers, mission types, mission lengths, mission difficulties, level restrictions, rank restrictions, risk factors and other variables. On average, a level 2 Journeyman such as you earns 29,454 MTA merits per successfully completed mission.]
That.. didn't sound very much. His avatar's robotic face didn't hide his dismay at this paltry amount of merits.
It wasn't even enough to fill the gaps between his teeth!
If his level remained the same, then he needed to earn 95 million MTA merits in order to earn his own passage to the Red Ocean!
If he earned around 30,000 merits per mission, he would have to complete 31,667 missions in order to become a galactic pioneer!
I'll probably be a thousand years old by the time I earn enough merits!
By then, fleet beyonder tickets were completely moot! In fact, the galaxy would probably look completely different from today! Ves wasn't even sure whether the MTA and the Rim Guardians would still be around in the distant future!
Can you describe the missions that my fellow associates at my level are taking?
[Most of the associates at your level perform missions that call for designing specific mechs that have to perform well under unique and difficult circumstances. Aside from that, your peers also accept missions that task them with tutoring younger mech designers or compete at various mech design competitions.]
None of them sounded particularly risky or challenging. Ves recalled that he received 50,000 merits from the Rim Guardians after he turned Silent William into an expert candidate.
Considering the immense difficulty of pushing any mech pilot through the extraordinary threshold, his mission was at least twice as difficult as the typical missions performed by his peers!
Of course, Ves did not intend to perform another mission like this. He needed to earn a lot of merits. Missions that only offered tens of thousands of merits were completely useless to him! The distraction would even detract from his goals!
[This ends my tour. Do you still require my assistance?]
No thanks, Hogan. I think I'll be able to do fine here on my own.
[Very well, Apollo Radiant. You may summon me with your comm whenever you wish.]
Gamma-Gamma-Hogan soon disappeared through a dematerialization effect.
It didn't really matter if Ves dragged his robot butler around everywhere, but he felt a bit uncomfortable about being stared at by a Benny that wasn't under his control.
He entered the merit hall. He passed by various displays of great masterwork mechs and greater mech designers. As Ves glanced at the displays, the pop-up boxes helpfully enlightened him to what made them worthy to be put on display.
After passing by this display, he entered one of several enormous halls that held hundreds of Rim Avatars.
The associates had all gathered here for several reasons.
Most of the Rim Avatars were closely watching the giant projected mission boards. They keenly observed the new additions to the board like a hawk. As long as an attractive exclusive mission emerged, scores of Rim Avatars immediately tried to accept them! Only the ones with the fastest reaction time managed to obtain the exclusive mission!
Not every mission was exclusive. There were plenty of open missions which rewarded the first associate who completed them first.
The associates weren't very eager to perform these missions. They were usually difficult or time-consuming. What was worse was that there was always a chance that their hard work would be in vain as long as others submitted their results a little bit earlier!
Ves browsed the various missions on display.
Design a landbound ranged mech that can resist intense electromagnetic storms.
Reward: 25,000 MTA merits]
Accompany a second-class expeditionary fleet tasked by the Rim Guardians to explore an anomalous megaplanet in the deep frontier. Design or modify mechs that function well in this difficult environment.
Be aware that the gravity of the megaplanet is estimated to be 8.9 g. Any associate who wishes to perform this mission must prove their ability to design a mech adapted to the megaplanet's extreme environmental conditions.
Reward: 475,000 MTA merits]
Take part in a research group tasked with studying and deciphering ancient alien war machines. Not all war machines are analogous to mechs.
Your reward is in direct proportion to your contribution to the research group.
Reward: 1,000 MTA merits - 100,000 MTA merits]
Well. His Apollo Radiant avatar placed its metal hands on its metal hips. It's just as I've expected. Earning merits is anything but easy!
Opportunities to earn 1 million merits or more were not only rare and difficult but also locked behind restrictions!
Design a complete product group of spaceborn mechs for an expeditionary fleet that is tasked with exploring the Nyxian Gap. The exact details and requirements of this mission are classified and will only be revealed to qualified mission takers.
Prerequisite: level 6 associate mech designer OR Master Mech Designer.
Reward: 4,500,000 MTA merits, 20,000 MTA credits.]