The Mech Touch

 
 

The Mech Touch Chapter 255 Breathing to Life


In truth, Ves didn't wish to resort to super-publish option, as he considered it a cheat. Besides sullying his reputation and demeaning the tradition, he wouldn't be able to get away with it anyway.

He already shared his development logs to the MTA. if Ves suddenly improved his design by a significant margin at the very end, the MTA would rightly question whether he had help.

"Let's form a plan and draw up a time table." He announced to the people gathered in the conference room. "I think it's not too late to release my latest model a month from now. It's impossible for Dumont's company to have produced so many mechs in that span of time."

They hashed out a quick plan that mobilized the entire company.

Even though the Blackbeak hadn't been finished yet, its functional state allowed the workshop to grow familiar with its design. Chief Cyril and Carlos received permission to train the mech technicians with practising its fabrication in a virtual environment.

Meanwhile administration and relations departments laid the groundwork for logistics. Ves wanted the LMC to be amply supplied without being overcharged for the necessary raw materials. He also wanted the shipping to be reserved in advance in order to minimize delays and disruption in supplies.

"The current convoys between Cloudy Curtain and Bentheim won't suffice for our needs." Jake reported after making a projection on how many goods flowed in and out of the workshop. "The Barracuda has lately remained rather idle. Other than conveying some of our executives to Bentheim and back, the corvette is severely underutilized."

"Any shipments we make outside a convoy isn't insured by Sanyal-Ablin." Ves shook his head. "I don't want to tempt fate by putting millions of credits worth of goods in an even more expensive starship. The Barracuda will adhere to the current flight schedule. If won't attract so much attention if all it does is ship some of our marketing people back and forth. On that topic, how is the negotiation going with Marcella?"

"We've been making slow but steady progress in our discussions with your mech broker. From what we can tell, she values your ability to improve and thinks your worth will only increase in the future. Our negotiating team has been able to leverage this information into compelling her to agree to a number of important concessions. However, our talks have stalled lately due to the lack of activity on our part."

Ves already knew why. "She's waiting for my design, I bet. Once I fabricate the prototype of the Blackbeak, I'll ship it over to Bentheim in order to take advantage of their extensive testing facilities. The MTA's Cloudy Curtain branch office lacks the hardware to put the prototype to its paces."

A few people showed alarm at his decision to do the testing in Bentheim.

"The port system is a powder keg waiting to blow!" Primrose warned with a shrill voice. "It's highly inadvisable to step foot on the planet with war tensions so high!"

"There's no other choice. I can't do without the sophisticated testing equipment that is only available on major planets like Bentheim. Don't worry, I've got Raella, Melkor and Sanyal-Ablin watching my back."

"We're also permitted to pilot our own mechs within city limits!" Raella raised her fist in excitement. "If the BLM wants to pick a fight, I'll gladly give them one!"

Once they finished their testing, Ves would return to Cloudy Curtain and apply the lessons on his initial design.

"Do we have enough time for another round of testing?"

"Likely not. There's a lengthy lead time required to submit an original design to the MTA. If we want to make the Blackbeak ready for sale in a month, we have to submit the final version along with a fabricated copy to the MTA's branch in Bentheim at least two weeks before the official release."

So in essence, Ves actually had three weeks to work with before he had to finalize his design. "We can't afford to undergo a second round of testing. We can only hope that one round will be enough to catch all the major flaws. Marketing, once I show off the prototype to Marcella, please work together with her brokerage on a marketing campaign. Make sure to take various budgets into account."

A simple plan made all the difference. Getting his people moving again helped push back the negative sentiment. Everyone dispersed and went back to work. Ves himself took some time off. He wanted to be in his best condition before he fabricated the prototype.

Lucky meowed and climbed on his shoulder once he sank into a couch at the lounge. The cat didn't experience much excitement with Ves holed up in his office. His pet made his disaffection clear by batting his paw against his cheek.

"I know, I know, you'll get your fun soon. We'll be travelling to Bentheim again after a few days."

"Meow!"

Ves thought about picking something up at Bentheim that could keep Lucky busy. Then again, the amount of minerals his cat had eaten so far had reached a point where Lucky showed signs of evolving yet again. The glowing blue lines between its shiny bronze-like exterior glowed as bright as a flood lamp.

"You're stuffed with energy, aren't you?"

"Meorrww." Lucky lazily stretched his back.

"I wonder what you'll look like at level 3."

As Ves advanced, so did Lucky. It made him wonder what his cat had in store in the future. Perhaps he'd be able to traverse the stars, or fire a mech-grade laser from his mouth. Maybe he'll be producing gemstones that could double the performance of any mech.

He began to fabricate the prototype the next day. He skipped practicing the process in a simulation because he was short on time. Instead, he relied on his substantial fabrication skills to tide him over his very first attempt to bring the Blackbeak to life.

Chief Cyril gestured everyone away. "Everyone, clear out! The boss will be working on the prototype alone!"

Due to everyone's unfamiliarity with the new design, Ves demanded full control over the entire fabrication process. Only if he did everything himself would he be able to guarantee the quality of his prototype. It was vitally important that this early copy of the Blackbeak be a faithful reflection of its design.

Every mech technician halted their work and cleared their junk. The new production line stood ready to be used. Ves took a deep breath and centered his mind onto his continuously evolving image.

He opened his eyes, revealing a flickering glint in his eyes. "Let's make you whole."

Ves moved his fingers over the console of the Dortmund printer. He started working from the inside out, fabricating the innermost pieces first before working his way outwards.

The technical challenge laid mostly in his unfamiliarity with the process. He also worked with unfamiliar materials and entirely new alloys that sometimes strained his capability to solve problems on the fly.

"Still, the greatest advantage of designing a mech from scratch is that you have complete control over its complexity."

A hybrid knight like the Caesar Augustus possessed a lot of interconnected components that made a mess of things inside. Even if he substantially simplified its internal architecture in the Mark II, it still posed a lot of difficulties.

On the other hand, an pure knight with a narrow set of priorities carried a lot less baggage around. Ves prioritized on designing a simple, clean and easy-to-assemble internal architecture because he intended the Blackbeak to be repaired and worked on over many years in the field.

"Easier to repair also makes it easier to assemble."

He only encountered some genuine challenges when he formed the armor plates. Each of the three Veltrex layers centered around their own mix of highly valuable exotic minerals that might react unstable if handled improperly. Even with his Alloy Compression III sub-skill, Ves came across various close calls that could have been avoided if he practiced beforehand.

"I can't afford the time to take a trial run. I'm already in the race and there's no way but to proceed!"

The time pressure actually emboldened Ves to put his full effort in his work. The black phoenix also thrived in a crisis and become more active and engaged as the fabrication went on. The two synergised with each other and Ves started adding intuitive touches in his work at the prompting of the picky image in his head.

After his first slip-ups, Ves got the hang of working with each different formula. He smoothly applied the correct adjustments to the chemical treatment machine and the alloy compressor to ensure a near-perfect finish for each of the plates.

The most difficult work by far was adding all of the flourishes onto the top layers. Ves had to put the pieces back inside the Dortmund in order to utilize its precision carving module to neatly trace out the decorative flourishes. One wrong move risked threatening the structural integrity of the entire layer, turning it from an effective piece of armor into a clunky alloy plate.

"I definitely can't add something so elaborate in my silver label version of the Blackbeak." Ves concluded. "Anyone who's Assembly Skill is below the standard of a Journeyman can forget about doing this without leaving flaws."

The added difficulty of incorporating these engravings raised the value of his design. Ves put a lot of creative energy in their formation, granting them meaning beyond conveying a simple image. Ves even imagined the black phoenix blessing them with its own touch of vital energy.

"It's like they're acting as reservoirs for the X-Factor or some other kind of metaphysical energy."

By the time he finished decorative engravings, they appeared to glow in his sixth sense. The entire mech turned into something more than a simple machine by the time he started assembling the pieces into place.

His consciously simple design allowed him to assemble the various parts with greater speed and ease than with a hybrid knight. The Blackbeak hardly made a croak as its parts smoothly fit into place with the judicious use of bots.

"It's like magic." Carlos sighed as he compared the exquisite craftsmanship displayed by Ves with his own output. "How is Ves able to make his products with so much presence? The mech isn't even finished yet, but I can already tell it will be an exceptional work!"

Cyril chewed on a piece of stimulants as he formed a reply. "I've seen jobs like this a couple of times in my life. They're made by craftsman in the best sense of that word. They are passionate about their work and treat every individual mech like a seperate art piece. You can tell that Ves is made from the same mold by the intensity of his focus. It's like we're not even here."

Even their low discussion didn't affect the meticulous work that went into fitting the more delicate pieces into their assigned positions. Once Ves attached the finished sword and shield to the back, the prototype officially came into being.

The black phoenix in his mind cried out triumphantly and spread its wings. It was just about to depart from his mind and enter the almost-finished Blackbeak's design, but Ves held the stubborn bird in place.

"It's not finished yet! Stay put!"

The phoenix took offense at his demand and tried to burst through the shackles holding it down. Ves cried out in pain and held his thundering head in his hands. His sudden collapse alarmed the mech technicians.

"He's exhausted He hardly took a rest over these three days!"

"Call a medic from the security group! They have one on-site, I'm sure of it!"

None of them suspected that Ves was waging a battle in his mind. The black phoenix he birthed into being had developed a life of its own. Like any child growing up, it sometimes tried to defy its progenitor. In other words, the black phoenix reached the point where it started to assert its own identity.

"It's not time yet!" He yelled, to the confusion of the worried technicians. "Stop your stupid tantrum and get back inside!"

 
 


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