The Mech Touch Chapter 413 Like A Drug
"Remarkable! It's so lifelike! This is the best mech I've ever piloted!"
"I can't believe how much at home I feel when I pilot the Crystal Lord! I tried all three versions and the gold label mech is by far the most sublime!"
"The cheaper bronze label model is no slouch either! Let me tell you, my mercenary corps already owns a silver label Blackbeak. Piloting a bronze label Crystal Lord is almost the exact same experience!"
Their subjective experiences and lack of technicalities that they could point out as issues led to a growth in positivity. Everyone focused on the good points of his design, and those who tried the models out in the simulations came away with strong desire to pilot the mech again.
"Fifteen minutes is too short! I can't wait until tomorrow to pilot this virtual mech again! I need the real deal!"
"When will the auction start? Let me get my hands on a copy as fast as possible!"
Ves deliberately arranged the simulator pods to be placed in the vicinity of the nine gold label Crystal Lords. He also allowed the guests to approach the mechs and touch their cool metallic surface. This way, the vast majority of the attendants became exposed to the mutually amplified auras radiated by the mechs.
It was difficult to describe their effects on the people who neared the mechs. Everyone gazed at the machines with reverence. Some even lowered their heads in respect. As they discussed the Crystal Lord design among themselves, their thoughts and words would unconsciously be colored by their altered moods.
Nobody showed any awareness of this effect. As far as Ves was concerned, he achieved the same effect as outright drugging them into liking the Crystal Lord design.
The thought of it caused him to smirk, and as he continued to make himself available for questioning, he radiated supreme confidence in his work.
Under the intangible but near-oppressive might of the Crystal Lords, no one dared to affront their dignity by mentioning any shortcomings. Most of the crowd subjected those that raised any critical points with dirty looks. Under this strong social pressure, troublemakers found little means to raise another ruckus.
Of course, Ves and the LMC did not leave everything over to fate. After answering another question, Ves briefly excused himself and walked to the side. Gavin greeted him with a nod as he kept his eyes on his data pad.
"How many troublemakers have been carted away by security?"
"Twenty-five and counting." Gavin answered. "Since they only tried to heckle you, Sanyal-Ablin isn't able to hold them back and question them. We haven't been able to trace whether they attempted to stir up trouble on behalf of others and who their employers might be."
"Don't count on finding that out even if we held them custody. These professional agitators are smarter than that." Ves grunted. "Still, Sanyal-Ablin is surprisingly effective in rolling them up before they could make a scene."
Gavin raised his head and grinned. "That's what you get when you hire the best. SASS has a lot of experience in crowd control. It makes sense when you consider how obsessive the Konsu Clan is about conformity. The AIs they employ are keeping a close watch on every attendants at once. The moment they attempt to raise their voice, the sound dampeners immediately silence their throats."
"Too bad they didn't caught that woman." Ves frowned. "Why hasn't security stepped in?"
"They couldn't silence her at the time because she took the place of an invited guest and sat close to the front. By standing up, she called out a lot of attention to herself while making any attempts at silencing her really obvious. Her voice also carried a strange property that inserted doubts in the AI."
That was something else he wanted to know about. "Who is she, anyway? How come she's in our guest list?"
"Her name is Mellie Neverland. She's actually a cousin of Andar Neverland. She's a mech designer as well, though she works at one of the larger mech manufacturers in Ansel. According to her record, she doesn't have a lot of designs under her belt. She only contributed a small part of a couple of larger collaborative projects."
He somewhat understood her background now. "She's a graduate of the Ansel University of Mech Design, isn't she?"
Gavin looked down at the data pad. "You're right!"
An outsider like Gavin might not be fully aware of the influence of the AUMD. Ves guessed that Mellie had been tasked by someone from the AUMD to drag down the perceived value of the Crystal Lord as much as possible.
"Could it be Mr. Neverland who is behind Mellie's attempt?" Gavin spoke out.
Ves shook his head. "It doesn't make any sense for him to do so. He's earned a sizable fortune with mass producing the bronze label Blackbeaks for the domestic market. Sure, his Elemental Mech Engineering isn't suited to produce the Crystal Lord, but that is no reason to risk his current licensing contract with us. The mastermind is likely someone else connected to the AUMD."
As for why someone from the AUMD wanted to spoil his party, Ves could think up a lot of reasons. It might be due to animosity against those who with foreign ties, or an attempt to diminish his value in front of the Mech Corps so that he wouldn't take away a plump assignments from their graduates.
"I don't get it, boss. Why does the AUMD feel the need to put you down?"
"They feel threatened by someone like me. I studied at Rittersberg, a place filled with spoiled brats descended from decadent billionaires and poisonous politicians. A small number of mech designers who graduated from my school act all high and mighty once they enter the industry. They compensate their lack of talent and ability by bullying everyone aside with their connections or their wealth."
"I thought the mech industry is an extremely competitive field." Gavin replied with puzzlement. "Shouldn't those rich kids make fools of themselves once they publish a couple of designs?"
"Ordinarily, their lack of talent is exposed in very short order. You're right in that the market won't be fooled by a bad design. However, those with means have other tricks available to them. The easiest way is to hire or coerce a more capable mech designer into designing mechs in their stead."
"I see." Gavin nodded. "So these good-for-nothings stay in business far longer than they ought to. Still, isn't it easy to expose them in that case?"
"Hahaha." Ves laughed in a low tone. "Who would dare go against their influence by challenging their competence? Anyone who sticks out their head won't gain a lot of rewards, but instead piss off a powerful influence."
"Still, you don't seem like one of those spoiled brats you're talking about. Unlike them, you've demonstrated your actual skill several times in public."
"That's even worse. Since the graduates of the AUMD can't take out their frustration on those spoiled brats, they train their firepower on schmucks like me. Even though I enjoy some backing as well, they can't help me out in this area."
"Why not? You're a Larkinson and an apprentice of a Master Mech Designer. That should scare loads of people off."
"Those influences can deter a casual bystander, but they don't look so scary to those in the know. We Larkinsons are fairly famous in the mech pilot circles, but we don't have any influence in the industry other than myself. As for my Master, she's many light-years away from the Bright Republic. I'm just a nominal disciple, so how much does she really care about me?"
The few times she met her, Ves in fact felt as if Master Olson genuinely cared about him, if only a little bit. Perhaps she might have ulterior motives and perhaps she saw a use for him in the future, but Ves never got the impression that she regarded him as dirt.
Still, as busy as she was, Ves never fooled himself into thinking that he registered high in her list of priorities. A Master Mech Designer wielded enough influence to affect the entire Friday Coalition. She probably spent most of her time on developing her own enterprises.
"Besides catching people who wanted to make a fuss, Sanyal-Ablin also caught a couple of armed people outside the steps." Gavin spoke in a serious tone.
"Only three, but all of them had been kitted out with stealth gear. Regular security companies would have been fooled by these measures."
"These guys aren't much of a threat even if they managed to sneak inside." Ves waved away the threat. "Whoever sent them is too small-time for us to track them down. Tell Sanyal-Ablin to deliver them to the local authorities and let them handle the thugs as they see fit."
The high-class convention hall hid an abundance of defenses. Before anyone could pull out a gun and shoot into the crowd, a large number of solid plates would emerge from the ground to block his line of fire.
Anyone with a bit of know-how should know about this and more. That a bunch of stealthed assassins or saboteurs attempted to cause a major incident anyway showed their lack of importance.
"Have any more people entered the hall since the end of my presentation?"
"A fair amount of people are constantly coming through. In fact, it's starting to become a problem. Too many people are entering, and not enough are going out! By now, Sanyal-Ablin is forcing the people outside to queue up and wait their turn."
"This is a good sign." Ves smiled. "The men and women clamoring to come inside must have heard about the event from a broadcast or through word of mouth. What they heard about the Crystal Lord must have been extremely positive as well. Otherwise, they won't be coming in such great numbers."
"A lot of mech designers are attempting to enter as well. Per your orders, the guards refused them entry."
"Good." Ves nodded.
Mellie Neverland and a handful of other mech designers only got to attend this product reveal because of their relations to him or the LMC.
Ves did not look forward to getting challenged to a design duel, so he straightforwardly forbid entry to other mech designers. Perhaps he might be pissing off a lot of fellow colleagues, but he wouldn't be the first mech designer to do so.
He found it more important to retain complete control than to please potential troublemakers.
Once he took a look at the contents of the data pad, Ves nodded to Gavin and patted his shoulder. "Keep up the good work. Try and find a way to get people to leave. I want as many people to witness my mechs as possible today."
"That's going to be really hard. Look at their faces. Do any of the attendees look like they want to go?!"
"Figure something out with Sanyal-Ablin. They should be good in this as well."
Around ten minutes later, Ves saw a result. He didn't know how, but Sanyal-Ablin managed to set up a rotation. Aside from the invited guests, everyone else could only linger in the hall for a limited amount of time.
Time went by and Bentheim's sun fell over the horizon. By the end of the local day, tens of thousands of citizens and tourists visited the hall and got a close glimpse of the nine impressive mechs.
The auction held at the evening went great as well. The collectors and representatives all stewed underneath the combined auras for hours at a time.
Such a strong and pervasive exposure to the effects from the X-Factor of the mechs inured them to its influence. However, even if they got used to the charm of the mechs, they still couldn't think about parting from their presence.
The representatives of different collectors who hadn't decided to attend all did their best in convincing their bosses to bid on the gold label mechs. Some even managed to pull their collectors from whatever they were doing in order to attend the auction in person.
This led to a raft of eye-watering bidding. The most expensive mech auctioned for 134 million credits while the cheapest one went for a respectable 122 million credits.
While the winning bids hadn't reached the level he had hoped, Ves could still call this day a success.
"Still, even if I managed to woo the crowd, I don't know if the rest the market will be so easily convinced."
Without seeing the mechs in person, others wouldn't be drugged by their auras. Will the Crystal Lord models still appeal to them? Ves could only wait until tomorrow to find out.