The Mech Touch


The Mech Touch Chapter 259 Completion


The completion of the Blackbeak resulted in a cleansing of the mind. Ves never realized the black phoenix's presence took up such a heavy toll on his mind. Its departure freed up space he never knew existed.

His design possessed a definite spiritual element. He could feel it in his sixth sense. It distinguished his design from the vast majority of other designs publically available for licensing. No one would be able to tell why his design drew the eye, but it definitely possessed a seductive allure.

"It's pretty much a bad boy among designs."

The Blackbeak's appearance carried a dark mystique that made it a more natural fit among pirates and outcasts than upright mercenary circles. It was the kind of mech that appealed more to mech pilots with a lot of issues on their plate.

Even with these negative connotations, Ves still loved his design like it was his own child. In a certain sense, he indeed birthed it into this universe.

After Ves came off his high, he sighed and raised his comm before dropping it. Before he could get his evaluation from the System, he needed to fabricate a single copy of the final design. Taking such a step would leave a physical presence of his design.

"Onwards, then!"

He bounded out of his office and raced towards the workshop floor. The meandering mech technicians all looked up at his entry.

"Clear the production line!"

Everyone soon found out that the Blackbeak had been finished. The mech technicians wrapped up their projects and hauled every piece of junk to the side. They were about to witness the fabrication of the first production model, something that carried a lot more weight than the production of the prototype.

"Can we help?" Carlos asked. "We practiced on the prototype's design for several weeks. We're beginning to get the hang of it. The armor plates are still giving us a lot of trouble, but we can easily take care of the generic components."

Ves shook his head. "Not this time. It's not that I don't trust you, but my first production model is going to be submitted to the MTA. I can't afford to risk any deviations from the design."

His extensive Assembly Skills made him the most proficient fabricator in the workshop by far. This actually indicated that his workshop lacked a senior fabricator that could take over for Ves in his absence.

Such figures usually consisted of older mech designers who gave up on pursuing a career in design. Their background in mech design and their decades-long experience in fabrication entitled them to fantastic conditions. They easily earned millions of credits a year at some medium mech manufacturers.

Right now, Ves displayed the same amount of skill of a senior fabricator in his own workshop. He deftly manipulated the interface of the Dortmund to churn out part after part. His prior experience with the prototype allowed him to avoid many of the pitfalls he stumbled into last time.

Ves designed the Blackbeak to be easy to fabricate. Besides the complicated armor system and the elaborate surface carvings, the mech embodied the rule that knights should be a simple mech to make.

He even detected a faint resonance between the Dortmund printer and his work. He faithfully reconstructed the impressive machine out of a variety of salvaged parts. He understood the machine and felt connected to it in a way that he would never have with an off-the-shelf device.

The more he understood his tools, the better he was able to exert control over the process.

Even the armor forging proceeded with little incident. Once he got the hang of it once, he could reproduce the same steps in his sleep. The differences between the first version and second version of his design didn't lead to major shifts in paradigms, so he applied the same solutions as last time.

The Blackbeak's first production model slowly came together. Each bolt and plate had been made with loving care, as Ves channeled his full focus into making the most wholesome representation of his design into a physical presence in this reality.

The final step consisted of mounting a custom gem inside the cockpit. Like the Mark II, Ves turned the start button into a placeholder for a gemstone. He carefully opened a pouch and selected a pre-prepared gem that Lucky once produced some time ago.

[Black Diamond of the Night]
Increases the speed and armor of a mech by 10% at low light levels.

The dark diamond featured a compelling glint that matched the Blackbeak's mystique. While he didn't think his customers would employ his mech at night, it might provide a surprising result.

"Well, it's not quite certain my first production model will even see combat."

The mech market placed a lot of value on special or unique mechs. The abundant amount of money he harvested from the Vintage Festival was a case in point. Wealthy collectors constantly kept their eye out on mechs with noteworthy providence.

It remained to be seen whether the first production model became a rarity. It derived its value from the overall success of its design. The more copies he sold, the more collectors desired to obtain the initial copy he completed just now.

After completing his mech, Ves gathered everyone at work and invited them to gaze at the brand new model.

Jake whistled in appreciation at the sight. "I don't know how you did it, but your first production model is even more hypnotic than the prototype. I'm only worried that the market might not be able to stomach it. Those who get a glimpse of your mech from a projection won't be able to experience its intensity."

Much like artwork, a recording or a projection wouldn't be able to convey more than a tenth of the intangible properties of his hand-crafted work. His virtual models should have deserved more appreciation, but because of the limitations in simulation technology, his customers only experience a pale imitation of his original intentions.

"That's the nature of our business. We just have to work with what we have."

Ves spent the final day wrapping up his documentation. He already sent more than enough proof that he worked on his design alone, but it didn't hurt to send additional documents. He mainly paid attention to justifying his design choices. It gave the judges from the MTA a glimpse in his mind.

He also assigned the Blackbeak design a model number. Every mech designer adhered to their own rules with regards to these codes. Ves kept it relatively simple in order to keep track of his growing catalog of designs.

BP-A-01 stood for Black Phoenix, Arkhan, first published edition.

If Ves wanted to update the design, he'd change the code for the Mark II version to BP-A-02. If he wanted to design an aerial variant, the code changed into something like BP-S-01. In short, every update or variant using the Blackbeak as a base began with BP.

While he tidied up his project files, he also sneaked in some time with the System and submitted his design to its discerning gaze. The program spat out its evaluation of the Blackbeak almost instantly.

[Design Evaluation: Blackbeak BP-A-01]

Model name: Blackbeak BP-A-01
Original Manufacturer: Ves Larkinson
Weight Classification: Medium
Recommended Role: Offensive Knight

Armor: A-
Carrying Capacity: B-
Aesthetics: A
Endurance: A
Energy Efficiency: B-
Flexibility: C-
Firepower: D
Integrity: A-
Mobility: C+
Spotting: E
X-Factor: C++

Cost efficiency: C
Project involvement: 100%
Original component composition: 7%

Overall evaluation: The Blackbeak is a remarkable third-class offensive knight design that excels in lengthy conflicts. Its unusual balance between armor and design enables pilots to employ it in a variety of circumstances with abundant flexibility. However, its lack of notable strengths also demands a high level of skill and judgement to pilot the Blackbeak to its full potential.

[You have received 1000 Design Points for completing an original design that has no other equivalent.]

[You have received 500 Design Points for designing a mech with a moderate presence of X-Factor.]

"Damn it! I got so far and I still haven't broken through my previous record!"

His X-Factor score showed that he had reached the extreme end of the C range, yet it didn't enter into B territory. Ves felt a little bitter about that. Even though the growth element incorporated into the design should strengthen its X-Factor over time, it wouldn't be able to show off its potential at the time of purchase.

The System's lack of fanfare around his first original design felt a little off. It treated the Blackbeak the same as the temporary designs he slapped together during competitions. This should have been a major milestone for him. He at least expected a present or something.

"Can't you say anything nice for once, System?"

[User, keep working hard on developing your ability to design mechs. You are on the right track!]

Ves threw up his hands. "Whatever."

He forgot about the System and turned to his timetable. His administration already prepared the submission procedure. He only had to hand over his first production model along with some hard copy documents to the MTA to begin the validation process.

The validation process was mainly a souped up certification process where his design and his physical copy would be judged according to a very strict standard. Once his design passed muster, Ves gained the right to exploit the design through MTA channels.

Some mech designers skipped the entire process. This was mostly the case with more renowned designers or those who worked for powerful entities like the governments of second-rate states.

Submitting a design to the MTA entailed revealing all of its strengths and weaknesses to one of the largest powers in the galaxy. For designs meant to turn the tide in a war, such a massive exposure could spell defeat for the design, so under these circumstances, the MTA never got to peek at their inner workings.

Quite obviously, Ves hadn't reached that point yet. In order to convince his customers to purchase his mechs, he needed to make its details more accessible. Ves even planned to add the Blackbeak's design to Iron Spirit in order to let the public get a taste of its wonders.

The design phase formally ended when they loaded up the design aboard a secure transport arranged by Sanyal-Ablin. The security company would send it over to the MTA's branch in Bentheim as soon as the next convoy left from Cloudy Curtain. Ves didn't have to be present at the MTA unless they called for him, so he remained home this time.

Ves sank into his sofa at the lounge with a tired sigh. "It's finally done!"

"I'm curious." Raella drawled as she sipped on a drink. She recently finished a routine patrol in her Vectrix. "When will you develop a skirmisher variant?"

"The Blackbeak isn't a good platform to develop lighter mechs." He replied, not even giving it a serious thought. "It's a bit difficult but not impossible to develop a rifleman mech out of the base model, but I'm better off designing a dedicated skirmisher from scratch."

"Oh. I guess you won't be giving me a new mech any time soon then."

"Don't feel too bad for yourself. While I'm attracted to the idea of designing a rifleman mech, I'm not sure I'll be up to the task."

"What's holding you back? I thought you knew a thing or two about laser weapons."

That was an understatement considering that Ves even knew how to build a graser rifle.

"The weapon isn't the problem. It's the musculature that's an issue. Rifleman pilots demand exact control over the movements of their mechs. I haven't taken these priorities into account when I designed the Blackbeak. So again, it's better for me to come up with a new design than try to pigeonhole a knight into a rifleman."

All of this went over Raella's head. She quickly got bored of the topic and finished her drink. She threw away the container, which a spare cleaning bot deftly caught in the air before it could soil the floor.

"Hey Ves, I'd like to ask you something."

"What's up?"

"I'd like to take a few days off. Nothing happens in this boring dump anyway and all of those spooky assassins seem to have disappeared into nothing. So I'd like to take a trip to Bentheim to have some actual fun."

Ves frowned at that. "I'm not too comfortable seeing you go out alone. Besides, we just visited Bentheim a short time ago."

"That was for business, not for fun. The only thing I did was sit in my mech all day waiting for someone stupid enough to piss me off. Just let me go, please. Besides, I won't be alone."

"Is Melkor asking for leave as well?"

"Nah, he's a straight shooter who can stand guard at the same post for years on end if needed." Raella shook her head. "I already made some plans with someone else. You see, I'm kind of dating Dietrich right now…"

Ves sat up straight at those words. "What?!"



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