The Mech Touch


The Mech Touch Chapter 261 Validation


Someone rang the bell in front of the entrance to his stateroom aboard the Barracuda.

"Come in!" Ves called out.

The armored hatch slid open and let in Melkor. Wearing his trademark visor, his nephew's expression had always been hard to read.

"What brings you to my office, cousin? Is it about Raella?"

"Raella's a big girl now. She can take care of herself." Melkor waved away his concerns. "I'm here for you right now. I've been hearing that you aren't holding up so well these days. You're letting your nerves get the best of you."

Ves had to admit he fell into a hole of endless worry and consternation. He constantly came up with worst-case scenarios that threatened to ruin his debut and threaten his career.

"Don't you think mech pilots have it worse? Everytime we get deployed, we risk our deaths. Even those who man the security mechs assigned to routine patrols have to worry about madman trying to tear the whole place down. The galaxy isn't safe."

He understood Melkor's underlying message. How many Mark II's had the company sold all this time? Thirty? Fifty? More? Ves didn't keep track of his customers anymore, but he guessed that most of them employed them as warmechs.

The coming years of war would test his designs like nothing ever seen before. Not just the Mark II, but also the original Mark I could see a lot of combat. With the imminent introduction of the Blackbeak, Ves pushed even more mech pilots onto the battlefield with his creations.

His face adopted a rueful smile. "So many mech pilots will struggle to survive. Who am I to lament about falling flat on stage? It's not the end of the universe for me."

Even though a poor debut had a depressing effect on the rest of his career, as long as he worked hard enough, he could eventually redeem himself. Even Jason Kozlowski turned into a respectable mech designer nowadays despite having released the bloated Caesar Augustus.

The short talk woke Ves from his spiral of doubt and uncertainty. He thanked Melkor, who left once he did his job, and stood up from his seat to stare at a projection of the Blackbeak.

"I have all of the ingredients to succeed. I'll make sure you will get the recognition and use you deserve."

His sixth sense fluttered a bit, indicating that the black phoenix had been paying attention. Ves found it interesting how the black phoenix would evolve once more models began to proliferate.

The rules of the imaginary realm boggled his mind.

From what he guessed, a single black phoenix king ruled over the entire BP-A-01 line, while paler duplicates of the imaginary entity occupied the individual mechs.

These individual images possessed a growth element, so they grew over time, adapting to both their mech pilots and their shared experiences. This in turn fed back to the king of the mech line, allowing it to grow into an even more majestic creature that elevated the entire design to a higher level.

"It's going to require a lot of energy to accomplish such a thing, if something like that will happen at all." He suspected.

His inclusion of a growth element in his design had far-reaching effects that he didn't quite yet understood. His findings on the X-Factor only scratched the surface of what it could do.

The only downside was that it took a long time for the fruits to bear. Ves had to debut the Blackbeak when the design had only just broken out of its shell. He felt apologetic about that.

"Reality isn't always so perfect. I have to work with what I got."

He spent the rest of his journey preparing for the upcoming event. Through the galactic net, he coordinated with the marketing department on Cloudy Curtain and the envoys sent ahead to Bentheim. With the help of Marcella's brokerage, they secured a suitable venue to show off all six current production models at once.

"All of this is contingent upon the MTA approving the Blackbeak design for release." Gavin cautioned.

Ves knew his design. There was no way it could get rejected. "The Quality Assurance Department won't hold up our design. It's nowhere near those crappy designs that some of my competitors slap together in a couple of weeks. We specifically tested the limits of the prototype at the testing grounds to catch any remaining flaws that the MTA could use as an excuse to disqualify its design."

They did their due diligence. Some designers never even bothered to subject their mechs to any physical tests, thinking that the simulations would be lifelike enough to qualify.

When the Barracuda finally touched down at the spaceport, Ves met a representative from the MTA's QA Department. "Mr. Larkinson? We have a secure package for you."

A couple of security officers in MTA uniforms proceeded to confirm his identity. Once they made sure that he wasn't a body double, a robot, a clone or some brainwashed schmuck, the rep handed over a couple of fancy data pads.

As the people from the MTA boarded their shuttle and left, Ves glanced over pads with apprehension. Everyone else gathered around him to stare at the gilded pads. Their ceremonial appearance made it clear that their contents contained an official judgement from the QA Department.

"Open it up."

He activated the first pad. It took a few seconds for them to get a grip on the cover letter of the only document in the pad.

"...We are pleased to validate your submitted design, code name BP-A-01, as a battleworthy mech…"

"...Your submitted design exceeds the minimum standards of quality set forth by our Quality Assurance Department. It has been deemed worthy enough to be added to our archives…"

"...Your submitted design will be available for licensing as soon as it is commercially released. If your submitted design is not commercially exploited by any party, we will make your design available for licensing after one standard month…"

"...Our appraisers have determined the value of a standard ten-year production license of your submitted design to be 3 billion bright credits. If you wish to dispute this estimate, you are free to lodge a formal objection…"

"We did it!" Carlos yelled and raised his fist. "The MTA approved of our design!"

Everyone held a miniature celebration. The last roadblock ahead of its introduction to the market had been cleared. Even if Ves expected the MTA to give out their stamp of approval, even he didn't know for sure.

"The Blackbeak's license is worth only 3 billion credits." Ves sardonically said. "I don't know whether to feel glad or insulted. The license for the Havalax is worth 3 billion credits as well."

"Cheer up, Ves." Carlos clapped his back. "Even if they don't recognize your mech is better, at least it's in the same league."

Vees didn't think it likely that someone would license his design in the current generation. The huge sum mainly served as bragging rights.

For a third-class mech design, a valuation of 3 billion credits wasn't shabby at all. Ves sometimes heard of awful designs receiving a licensing value of only 500 million credits.

In that regard, he did quite well, though he heard of some geniuses managing to achieve a value of 4 billion credits.

"If I only had more time and better component licenses."

Now that the Blackbeak officially entered the records and became an MTA-approved design, their preparations entered a fever pitch. Ves shuttled back and forth between Marcella's brokerage and various offices in order to insure that nothing went wrong.

In the meantime, his back office continued to persuade more publications to come and cover the press conference without throwing too much money at them. That had proven to be quite a challenge.

Time passed in a blink, and the date of his debut had finally arrived. Ves woke up with all of his mental burdens gone. Somehow, he felt as if he already did his best.

After a short breakfast, Ves joined up with his entourage and left for the venue of his debut. They reserved an upscale exhibition hall in downtown Dorum that other mech designers frequently used to introduce new designs.

Beyond the palatial double doors, six gleaming Blackbeaks stood at a row behind the podium where Ves would make his speech.

"Wow."

Five of them stood just behind the first production model like an honor guard. All of their collective X-Factors resonated with each other to produce a remarkably strong aura that even took Ves aback.

Carlos whispered in appreciation. "With mechs like these, who's going to remember the Havalax?"

"Indeed."

Their view quickly cut off as a couple of bots covered the mechs with cloth. The bright white covers allowed spectators to get a glimpse of the silhouettes, which teased everyone's imaginations.

"Alright, folks! This is the big day! Let's make sure it happens without incident!"

Every preparation had already been made, but it didn't hurt to check. The exhibition room had been spruced up with banners featuring the LMC's iconic logo. Lucky meowed at the tall tapestries depicting a stylized version of himself longing atop a cartoonish cloud.

"That's you, buddy."

"Meow!"

His cat didn't seem so pleased at his appearance in the logo. Ves may have gone a little too far in making him appear cute and innocent.

"Oh come on, just look at that cute face of yours, with such big eyes you'll surely be a hit with the ladies!"

Lucky hissed and scampered off, not wanting to hear anymore nonsense from his owner. Ves merely shrugged his shoulders and went back to his final preparations. He already had a speech planned out which not only acknowledged his achievements, but also laid out a bold vision of the future.

Half an hour before the start of the conference, the first reporters arrived with a fanfare of hovering recorder bots. The reporters already staked their places before podium, hoping to occupy the best positions for their bots to transmit the press conference to their employers.

After that, security cleared a number of spectators. The LMC sent out a lot of invitations in the last couple of weeks. Those who decided to attend consisted mainly of industry insiders and previous customers.

Besides the expected guests, Ves also decided to open up his conference to bystanders. Plenty of people who walked by the exhibition hall must be wondering what all the commotion was all about.

This led to a fairly boisterous scene at the rear of the hall. Everyone pointed at the six covered mechs, hoping to get an early peak of what they hid underneath.

Time went by until it reached local noontime. Conversations faded out as Ves stepped forth onto the stage. Garbed in his anti-grav clothes, he cut a sharp figure as a mech designer.

"Welcome, everyone. Thank you for attending this press conference. Today, I will be introducing my first original design, a model which will revolutionize the way its pilots will be able to survive the coming battles!"

Ves waved his hand and a projection appeared of the LMC's logo. Lucky quietly meowed in objection at the back, but no one heard his complaints.

"Let me begin by introducing my company. Founded on the quiet planet of Cloudy Curtain, the LMC aims to elevate the sleepy rural planet's economy and bring more employment opportunities to its citizens. We already employ a substantial amount of mech technicians and office workers, and with the introduction of my upcoming design, I expect the company to expand even faster!"

The projection shifted to footage of a large number of decisive historical battles. They all featured a number of iconic mechs that enthusiasts could recognize in their sleep.

"You may be wondering what the LMC stands for. It's short for Living Mech Corporation. I named my company this way because I believe that mechs are more than machines. With all the love and passion surrounding mechs, we don't always appreciate their contribution to humanity."

He raised his hand, pausing the projection to a fateful clash between two top-tier cutting-edge mechs.

"Think about it. How many lives are depended upon mechs? The entire course of the galaxy is constantly shifting due to the tireless contribution of mechs of all shapes and colors. They deserve our appreciation, and the LMC is my way setting forth my principle that mechs can be alive as well!"

"That's a bold statement, Mr. Larkinson!" A reporter rudely interrupted his speech. "But we didn't come here to be lectured about mechs! We know our business, so can you please move on to your new design?!"

Ves maintained his smile before the cameras. The reporter happened to be representing The Republican Mech, one of the Bright Republic's most widely read news portals on mechs.

Instead of snapping back with a verbal quip, Ves snapped his fingers. The cloths clinging over the mechs suddenly moved away, revealing the Blackbeaks in their full splendor.

"Is this what you wanted to see?"



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