Chapter 1991 Original Charm
Was Ves bashing his head against a wall?
He certainly felt like it after trying to come up with several alternate mech concepts. Each time, he attempted to come up with a mech shape that was able to offer better and more tailored performance compared to what a bog-standard vanilla humanoid striker mech had to offer!
I refuse to give up! I refuse to give in! I'm a mech designer! I can work with multiple mech shapes!
Designing humanoid mechs was very familiar territory to Ves. He almost never designed a mech that deviated from the premise of an upright machine that walked on two legs and used its two arms to wield its primary armaments.
This standard was very popular in the mech community, and for good reason.
Ves didn't need to reiterate that it was a shape that was easy to pick up and understand by his customers.
He didn't need to say that research on humanoid mechs had been done to death, so there were a lot of standard layouts that offered immediate answers on how to structure their internals and artificial musculature systems.
All of these advantages and more turned humanoid mechs into the predominant mech shape in human space. Bestial mechs took second place, but were very popular in certain states and star sectors.
Outside of these established conventions, there was still room for more mech shapes, some of which weren't inspired by the shapes of existing humans and beasts.
These days, the mech industry came up with a lot of standards and best practices. A lot of excellent mech designers over the generations experimented with what they could do. The MTA and other organizations gathered all of the results and aggregated them in order to determine which one was the best out of all of them. After a very long process, the solution the MTA chose would eventually become the most optimal standard which every mech designer had to respect!
Was there anything nefarious behind this drive towards pushing standards on the mech industry? Not necessarily. They were often the most optimal solution to most situations. It was a waste of time trying to explore other options when the existing standards were already the best!
Still, it's a mistake to assume that the standards are unquestionably the best in every situation.
Technology constantly progressed, opening up newer options and making unviable choices more practical.
The imagination of the entire mech industry was vast, but not unlimited. The most deviant minds who weren't satisfied with the existing standards always tried to figure out if there was a better way to solve a problem!
Most attempts ended in failure, but occasionally someone got lucky. Still, their successes were usually marginal and limited to specific circumstances. After so much technological development, it was very rare that a single mech designer was able to come up with a radical solution that was good enough to overturn existing standards!
Changing the shape of a mech to suit a certain purpose was not that unusual. However, most mechs designed in this fashion still fell within the boundaries of conventional standards.
Not many mech designers chose to take it a step further and design a true deviation from the standard.
Now that Ves started to tackle this challenge himself, he found out first hand why even Seniors and Masters declined to explore this direction further.
It's too difficult!
He felt as if he was straining his creativity to come up with good ideas. Most of them sounded promising at first, but as soon as Ves sketched a rough draft, they turned out to be very deficient in certain aspects.
So far, many of his mechs came across as demented frontline mechs. Removing the legs and turning the arms into flamethrower mounts vastly increased the capacity and efficiency of his mech.
However, these design choices neutered his striker mech's ability to defend against melee threats. This was not something striker mech pilots liked to see. Their mech types were designed to fend off approaching melee mechs, so they were at high risk of getting attacked by enemy mechs up close!
They'll probably equate my mech to a starfighter. Ves tiredly remarked as he mentally threw his latest draft design into his implant's trash bin.
Spaceborn frontline mechs were often indistinguishable from starfighters past a certain point. The only reason why they still fell under the category of mechs at all was because they required a pilot with the right neural aptitude to operate.
That said, which mech pilot wanted to pilot such a limiting machine? Mech pilots possessed their own pride! They spent at least eight, ten or twelve years learning how to pilot complicated, multi-limbed war machines! Putting them into the cockpit of a glorified starfighter was an insult to their identity!
After making so many futile attempts, Ves was out of inspiration. He no longer possessed the drive and energy to research alternate concepts.
Ves threw his hands and decided to end this session. He wouldn't gain anything when his inspiration ran dry. Even his creativity had limits!
Even though he hadn't gained any concrete results so far, Ves nonetheless gained at least some satisfaction.
He felt he was going back to his roots. Lately, Ves had been pushing off a lot of problems to Gloriana. It felt good to tackle a technical problem by himself. Unlike the other problems, Ves cared a lot about this issue, so he was fully invested in trying to solve it in a better way than the standard formulas could achieve.
It reminded him what mech design was really all about. His design philosophy had more in common with spiritual sorcery than the nuts and bolts of creating technically-sophisticated war machines. It was easy for Ves to become more and more detached from the technical side of mech design, especially since his girlfriend was so good in this aspect.
Ves couldn't help but be reminded of a warning he received from Master Moira Willix.
Specialization is good for gaining greater efficiency in my workflow, but not necessarily good for my development. If I keep handing off work I don't like to my girlfriend, I will eventually lose the ability to perform this work myself!
He needed to design mechs by himself in order to keep his comprehensive design skills sharp. Right now, the challenge he accepted forced him to exercise several technical design skills that he had neglected for a very long time!
It feels good to approach a design like I did at the start of my career! He smiled.
Though he failed to yield any useful results, the entire process benefited him in a different way. He felt mentally stimulated in a way that caused him to discover some of the original charm he appreciated about mechs.
No matter what shape they came in, mechs represented the ultimate creative potential of the human race. The vibrant mech industry constantly produced an uncountable amount of designs, many of which contained wonderful new innovations!
Leaving aside glows and design spirits, mechs fascinated Ves because they were capable of outputting a lot of damage or withstanding a lot of attacks through their clever design and thorough destruction.
Ves rediscovered some of the childish fascination he held towards mechs. In his childhood, he didn't know any better, but that didn't stop him from admiring these great and terrible machines!
Maybe I'm forcing the matter too much.
His latest setbacks and realizations cleansed his mind and snapped him out of his obsession. Now that he was able to look back at the past few days, he felt a bit ashamed. He was so determined to achieve the impossible that he disregarded his girlfriend's sound advice and proceeded to do exactly what she said, hitting his head against a wall.
At least I knocked off some dust in my mind when I did all of that head bashing! Ves joked.
He decided to take a break from work and occupy his time with other matters.
He spent some time tutoring Maikel and Zanthra Larkinson. Both of his pupils weren't ready for the real lessons yet, but that was no excuse for the two teenagers to slack off! Ves was determined to push them in order to make sure they earned their progress through blood, sweat and tears!
When the two kids whined to him that their workload was too high, Ves verbally slapped aside these arguments.
Do you think it's easy to become a Journeyman? Do you think you can stroll your way to my level of success? That's impossible! There are so many ambitious and hard-working mech designers in the mech industry that there is always someone better! The best you can do is keep up as much as possible while finding your own strengths. You can play after you become a mech designer. Until then, I expect you to manage your time well so that you keep learning something new every day!
He had to give the Larkinsons at least some leisure time. Ves was very careful about that. If he forced Maikel and Zanthar to study from morning to evening, they wouldn't be able to unwind and live their lives!
Ves had long developed a hypothesis that spiritual potential emerged from individuals who made the most of life. Spirituality seemed to have a very strong correlation with sentience. He guessed that clever and emotional people were much more prone to develop spiritual potential than someone dull!
After he finished checking their progress, Ves exited the design lab and wandered through the halls of the Scarlet Rose.
He couldn't help but recall the memories of the original-prefitted version of the ship and what took place in the corridors and compartments. With the help of his implant, he could call up the exact positions of the bodies on the deck and the damage to the interior.
Now, none of those signs were visible. The refit had extensively repaired the damage and wiped away the traces. Instead, the comfortable white interior was interspersed with the symbol of the LMC and the Larkinson Clan. Two different cats adorned the logos, though many people thought they were the same!
It felt very gratifying to own a ship as expensive and capable as the Scarlet Rose. It felt even better when Ves realized that he didn't pay fortune to obtain this ship!
No wonder the pirate profession holds so much attraction! It's so easy to steal someone's pride and joy through the use of force!
That said, Ves would be crazy if he decided to go pirate. Stealing the possessions of others was a very fast way to tanking his reputation and earning the ire of every lawful organization!
Eventually, he returned to his stateroom. Gavin stood and waited patiently at the entrance.
Benny? Why are you here?
Something important has come up. His assistant answered as his eyes darted in several directions. Let's head inside to talk.
When they entered the stateroom and took their seats, Gavin activated his comm and projected a recording of a compartment turned into a chamber of worship by a bunch of Ylvainans.
What is so concerning about this, Benny? All I see is a bunch of Ylvainan crew members performing their daily prayers.
Gavin zoomed in the projection. Ah, that is normally the case, but recently the Ylvainans have altered their worship rituals. Look closely at the statue placed in the back.
Now that Ves directed his attention towards it, the metal statue that usually depicted the robed form of Prophet Ylvaine was absent.
Instead, a new statue took its place! Ves studied the figure it depicted carefully and found some very disturbing aspects about it. Its face and demeanor looked very familiar!
Is that.. me?
Yes. Gavin answered. We don't quite know yet when it started, but the thousands of Ylvainans running our ships and piloting some of our mechs have all started to worship you directly! To be honest, that was already happening to some extent, but lately the Ylvainans have started to put you ahead of the Great Prophet! It's as if the Living Prophet voluntarily relinquished his central role in his own faith in favor of you! James has to be responsible for this massive shift, but the reason for it eludes us! None of the Ylvainans we've questioned can provide us with a solid answer!
Ves looked shocked at the news! If what happened in the recording took place throughout his entire fleet, then he was basically enjoying the worship of the entire True Ylvaine Dynasty!
This was incredibly surprising because he didn't even believe in the Ylvainan Faith!
What is that bastard James up to now?!