The Mech Touch

Chapter 2474: Changing Stance
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Chapter 2474: Changing Stance

Ves appreciated the Valkyrie Huntress variant quite a lot. Whoever developed it provided him with a ready-made concept. If the Hex Army succeeded in leveraging its potential, then he would have all the information he needed to design something better for the Larkinson Clan.

The potential power of the Valkyrie Huntress was quite considerable. While the Valkyrie Redeemer was a lot more flashy, swooping straight down into a large formation of Fridayman mechs was bound to cause some attrition! The Huntress variant was a lot safer because the lethality of ranged combat was not as high.

The potential value of the Valkyrie Huntress made him reconsider his stance towards variants.

Designing an original mech was incomparable to designing a variant. Mech designers gained much more out of doing the former than the latter.

Yet that did not mean that variants were worthless. On the contrary. Sometimes they might even surpass the original mech model.

When it came to mech designs with fairly common traits, it was common for competitors to copy the works. Sometimes, they were worse, but the ones that mattered either represented sidegrades or upgrades.

Sidegrades weren't necessarily better than the original design, but they were still worth developing due to the different options it presented.

The Valkyrie Huntress was an excellent example of one. By changing the offensive capabilities of the Valkyrie Redeemer, the ranged variant presented Hexer mech pilots with a very useful alternative.

"Now, even a ranged specialist can pilot a Valkyrie mech!"

Best of all, Ves didn't have to spend more than a small portion of his day to stabilize the spiritual foundation of the mech.

This was a very cost-effective transaction in his book.

"My design time is limited. If I want to keep progressing, I can't waste too much of my time on reinterpreting the same mechs over and over again."

He considered designing variants and designing successors of his existing models to be too time-consuming. Yet they were too valuable for him to give up on entirely.

It would be great if he could completely off-load their development to other mech designers, not just his assistants but also external mech designers!

Perhaps in the future, he could start some kind of program whereby third-party mech designers were allowed to present their variants to the LMC. As long as their variants were useful enough, Ves would spend his time on them to restore their spiritual foundation to the best possible condition so that they would still retain much of their glow!

"If the drop in glow efficiency doesn't exceed 20 percent, hardly anyone will notice I think."

This way, he could benefit from more situations like the one he was in right now. The modern mech industry was fairly open and largely revolved around sharing knowledge, know-how and designs.

By adopting a possessive and overly-insular stance towards his own designs, Ves missed out on this interaction. Now that he started to interact with both Fridayman and Hexer Master Mech Designers through his designs, he realized he may need to open himself up to the wisdom of other mech designers.

Of course, Ves knew that he was in a rather exceptional circumstance right now. It wasn't every day that a Journeymen got schooled by a bunch of Masters!

What was even more important was that his interaction with these high-ranking mech designers was both cooperative and competitive.

Hostile mech designers such as Master Olson and Master Katzenberg drove him to remedy the flaws of his design philosophy.

Friendly mech designers were able to point out several areas of improvements while simultaneously taking over the burden of developing variants.

In either case, Ves derived numerous benefits that he wouldn't be able to obtain so easily by himself.

As his thoughts on this matter shifted, he directed his attention to the final variant developed by the Hexers.

[Valkyrie Hurricane - VR-HU-01]

The final variant gave up space combat capabilities in order to improve its fighting performance in the air. While the base model was already decent at tussling against enemy aerial mechs, the Valkyrie Hurricane excelled at dogfighting.

Ves admired the way the designer of the Valkyrie Hurricane vastly improved its aerial maneuvering capabilities. The mech also gained some minor tweaks that considerably improved its ability to fight up close against other aerial mechs.

The drop in glow efficiency for this variant was 15 percent, which was rather moderate.

In total, each of the 5 variants the Hexers came up with were impressive in their own right.

He found it interesting that the Hex Army demanded variants that excelled at fighting in a single environment. The Valkyrie Interceptor and the Valkyrie Hurricane straightforwardly gave up their versatility in order to obtain a moderate boost when fighting in a single environment.

"It makes sense for the huge Hex Army to pursue this degree of specialization."

The performance gains from specialization trumped the logistical advantages of relying on flexible mech designs.

Only smaller forces with limited manpower and carrier capacity preferred to adopt the latter approach. Ves always found it rather annoying that he had to split his own mech forces up into landbound and spaceborn forces. In most cases, this meant that the Larkinson Clan could only effectively deploy half of its total combat strength in any given battle!

Therefore, Ves still hadn't given up on his goal to provide his clan with multi-environmental mechs.

"Our circumstances are different."

That said, he still recognized the value of mono-environmental mechs. They were cheaper, less complex, offered more capacity and were easier to pilot. Customers obtained substantially more value for their money if they employed the mechs correctly.

Once he reviewed the work he performed for a final time, he transmitted them back to Gloriana.

Hopefully, the Hex Army would begin to field the new variants soon. Ves genuinely looked forward to seeing whether the reduction in glow efficiency materially impacted the performance of the new mechs. He also wanted to see whether any of the variants lived up to their promise.

"They should, since they're clearly developed by the best." Ves guessed.

Witnessing the work of Master Mech Designers fueled his yearning to reach their level. He knew he still had a long way to go before he was able to realize his design philosophy, but that day would certainly come.

His eyes burned hot with ambition.

"I can't slow down!"

In the final moment before the combined fleet reached the Cinach System, Ves quickly checked whether he had missed anything.

Ves took out the finished wedding rings he prepared a few days ago. He smiled as he admired his craftsmanship.

The rings no longer looked as bare and plain as before. Ves weaved in some layers of Unending Alloy and other exotics. The elegant curves and the distinguishable metals gave the rings a sophisticated look. It looked pleasing without making it seem it was trying too hard.

Three small jewels were recessed in each ring. These were the portions of the Unstable Chaos Essence gems he successfully split up some time ago. He made sure to perform this experiment remotely on another ship.

It turned out that the gems didn't necessarily explode when they were parted. At the very least, the Unstable Chaos Essence gems were actually a bit more stable than he thought.

This was good, as Ves did not believe they would blow up anytime soon.

It was also bad because it was harder than he thought to draw out the energy locked within the pieces. So far, the gems only served an ornamental purpose.

While Ves was fine with this outcome, he was greedy for more. Fortunately, he developed a possible plan to make the gems useful. He just had to reunite with Gloriana first so that he could proceed to harvest a small portion of her spiritual energy.

His only regret was that he failed to turn his rings into masterworks. While the base quality level of the wedding bands were already high after he borrowed some of Master Willix's production equipment, he was not a professional ring-maker.

"Well, I hope Gloriana won't mind that much." Ves hoped.

Once he completed his check, he was satisfied that he hadn't missed anything.

As long as no further problems emerged, Ves expected his wedding to proceed smoothly.

Since Gloriana told him that a large number of guests had traveled to Cinach, Ves decided to meet with Calabast in order to get any insight on them. He knew that many of the foreign visitors probably wanted something from him. Perhaps he might be able to make some new deals.

"So what do I need to know first?" He asked after summoning Calabast to his stateroom.

His spymaster sat down on his coach. "Ever since you conducted your last press conference, you've gained the attention of a lot more powerful forces. I'm sure you know why. What's important is that we have received numerous offers to form an alliance or cooperative relationship."

"Our clan is independent." He said. "I have no intentions of forging too many lasting bonds in this part of the galaxy. We'll be leaving in the near future anyway."

"I know. I'm not talking about that. These offers are different from the ones that only aim to take advantage of you. They come from powers or organizations that are also aiming to travel to the Red Ocean."

Now that caught his attention!

"Tell me more."

"It's no secret that you have earned an astronomical amount of merits through your recent exploits. Just bringing back the Gravada Knarlax and her escort warships is enough to signal that you're tens of millions merits richer. This means that you have become a very attractive choice to those who also desire to travel to the Red Ocean."

Ves somewhat expected this to happen, but not so quickly and to this extent. "Are these potential partners worth our time?"

"Some of them are, or I wouldn't have brought up this topic. There are different family clans, companies and even noble houses who are all accomplished in their own right. For different reasons, they also wish to climb up the ladder by scrambling for gains in the Red Ocean. It's just that earning 100 million MTA merits is a tall order for any second-class organization."

"Even the Wodin Dynasty?"

She grinned. "Yes. Some of these powerful individuals or organizations propose to bring in additional partners. By splitting the burden at least five ways, every partner only has to contribute 20 million MTA credits at most. Of course, if you can contribute more, you'll get more say in the partnership."

"This.. doesn't sound very attractive to me. You know I don't like to surrender control."

"How else do you plan to earn more merits, Ves? Will you take on another high-risk mission like now? Our clan won't easily jump into the abyss the next time. Not after suffering such traumatic losses."

"This…" Ves grimaced. "I'll find a way. There are peaceful means of earning a lot of merits, you know."

Calabast obviously didn't have faith in this course of action. "It doesn't hurt to try, but the clock is ticking. I believe it is worth reaching the Red Ocean sooner by joining forces with other powerful partners. You won't have to work yourself to bone to earn a huge amount of merits.

He could see the logic in her suggestion. With almost 40 million MTA merits under his belt, it was already viable for him to partner up with at least two roughly-equal partners. Not only would he be able to skip a lot of effort, he might also obtain other benefits from cooperating with a strong ally.

When it came to trying to explore a completely unknown frontier like the Red Ocean, traveling together with others might be better!

Of course, Ves had to be able to trust his potential partners. This was always a big hurdle to him. He didn't want to expose himself and his clan to betrayal.

"Tell me about the most interesting offers."

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