Mech companies occupied a unique position within human society. Technically, they were arms manufacturers.
Some arms manufacturers sold infantry weapons. Other arms manufacturers sold turret installations.
Yet even though mech companies sold mechs, they were treated differently from other arms manufacturers.
This was because the designers and developers of those armaments were mostly anonymous faces. It didn't really matter to the vast majority of the market which person designed a specific weapon model. The company brand stood for the entire company rather than a couple of notable weapon designers.
Due to the prominence of mechs in the Age of Mechs, mech companies enjoyed a very different situation. Mech designers enjoyed a lot of attention and publicity to the point where their personal fame often overpowered the brand of the company where they worked at! A mech company was just a hollow shell without a notable mech designer taking the lead!
This unique condition along with the custom of mech designers founding and leading their own mech companies in person came with vast implications.
The most important one was that mech companies served as an extension of the lead designer's design philosophies. When it came to core principles, nothing was more important to a mech designer than the principles espoused by their deeply personal design philosophies.
Since the good ones often started their own businesses or took over existing ones, it made sense if they shaped the identities of their companies to accommodate their own beliefs.
The equation was slightly different when it came to mech companies that employed multiple mech designers. Even so, there would always be a small number of lead designers who took charge of the overall direction of the mech company.
The example of the KNG came to mind, though Ves admitted it was not the most stellar example of how a company should be run.
The Living Mech Corporation centered around Ves Larkinson, the mech designer. By that, he meant that the company should strongly be aligned to his own design philosophy. Even though no one but Ves himself could realize his design philosophy to its full potential, that didn't mean that his subordinates should just do their own thing!
A mech corporation that did not follow through with their lead designer's design philosophy would only hamper both in the future.
The mech designer wouldn't be able to progress as much as the mechs being produced and sold by their companies failed to fully realize their mech designs.
The mech company therefore suffered as well as their lead designer's stalling progress meant that it didn't enjoy as much success as it ought to have.
Each were dependent on each other. This was why Ves put his full attention on this issue. If his own company did not match him in lockstep, then he could forget about spreading the influence of his design philosophy across the galaxy!
"It starts with a motto." Ves muttered.
No one else could help him set a motto for his company. As the lead designer of the LMC, only he could shape its principles. Even the System couldn't help him solve this important hurdle.
Right now, Ves stared out of the high windows of his penthouse office, overlooking the darkening cloudy skies as evening set in. Most of the office workers as well as the day shift of mech technicians ended their work for the day and returned to their homes.
Thousands of workers filed out of the headquarters or the underground portion of the Mech Nursery. Company-provided transit shuttles and aircars waited at the vastly-expanded landing zone at the far end of the company premises. His workers entered them in an orderly fashion and took them all the way back to Freslin or one of its many suburbs.
"These people all rely on me to lead the company to prosperity."
It was a daunting thought. The wrong decision could not only ruin his own career, but also destroy the livelihoods of many of his workers.
Right now, he felt like he was leading his own miniature state. It was an apt analogy of the power he wielded and the responsibility that came with it. He no longer worked on his own but instead received the assistance of thousands of employees, all of whom shared in his fortune and misfortune.
Lucky idly floated down on his lap and demanded to be petted. Ves interrupted his reverie in order to lavish some attention to his pet.
As he looked at Lucky's mechanical form and sensed the spark of spirituality deep inside, Ves couldn't help but think if more machines could be like his cat.
What would a mech look like that possessed Lucky's breath of life and spirit?
"It wouldn't be a mech anymore." He muttered and shook his head. "A mech that has gained full autonomy is not really a mech anymore. It would be an entirely new sentient machine race."
A mech was a large war machine that operated along the direction of a mech pilot. Ves needed to remind himself to stick with this definition. While Ves wanted to make his mech more alive in a spiritual sense, he did not intend to go the full mile and make an entire race of Sigrund-like sentient AIs inhabiting mech-like bodies!
"The living mechs that I aim to design are not alive in a literal sense. It's sufficient for them to be alive in spirit."
Mechs should remain inanimate when no one actively piloted them. Whatever Ves might aspire for mechs, he wasn't extreme enough to think that they should be controlled by anything other than humans.
"Even if I believe that mechs should have more value and be more appreciated, it remains a fact that they are also tools who are meant to be used in the purpose they were designed for. In this case, mechs are designed to wage war."
It was very dangerous for humans to outsource the capacity to wage war on to easily exploitable AIs or other vulnerable entities. Humanity long learned that they needed to take charge of their own endeavors and Ves did not intend to upset that principle.
However, that did not mean his design philosophy was impossible to fulfill.
"It depends on my definition of living mech." He muttered as he stroked Lucky's back. "How can I define this term so that it recognizes the value I bring to mechs without sowing more confusion?"
Some mech designers adhered to very direct design philosophies. They wanted to design the most resilient mechs or the most enduring mechs. Anyone could easily explain their main design focus in a couple of seconds.
For example, under his guidance, Ketis managed to formulate her own design philosophy, which was to design swordsman mechs who wielded the sharpest swords.
"It's a simple ambition, but it fits her very well."
Her design philosophy came from her heart. The groundwork for it had slowly took on its shape after many years of running with the Swordmaidens.
As it was a sincere design philosophy that truly fit Ketis well, Ves did not stop her from adopting her greatest ambition as her design philosophy.
Sadly, Ves adopted a much more abstract design philosophy. This expanded his options but also raised the difficulty of fulfilling the aspirations of his design philosophy.
His main problem which hampered his ability to communicate his principles effectively was that he was burdened by the need to keep his advantages secret.
If he ever exposed what he learned about the X-Factor to the mech industry and the wider galaxy, he would not only lose his greatest competitive advantage, but also painted a huge target on his back!
The MTA, CFA and Five Scrolls Compact would fight to take him into their custody. Ves already possessed one reason for them to covet him, as he ostensibly held the identity of a Holy Son of the Five Scrolls Compact.
He did not feel like compounding his own value to these powerful trans-galactic organizations.
"I have to define living mechs in a way that isn't too direct but isn't too vague either."
How could he possibly straddle the line? With the handicap of not being able to reference spirituality or the X-Factor directly, Ves could not come up with an easy answer to this problem.
"Maybe I should start from the perspective of mech pilots."
As the principal users of his products, mech pilots served as the focal point of every mech company. While those with money and those with the power to decide which mechs they should purchase were not always mech pilots, their opinions still exerted a huge influence in the purchasing decisions.
A mech pilot's fit with a certain mech model was vitally important to the functioning of a mech force.
Did Ves aim to please every mech pilot?
"No." He shook his head. "I can't possibly design a mech that can satisfy everyone. That's just an impossibility."
Ves did not even dream of selling the most mechs or capturing a huge share of the mech market. Instead, he cared more about accommodating the needs of mech pilots who stood to benefit most from his products.
"My mechs are more than commodities."
Ves repeated this specific phrase for a reason. It encapsulated what he thought was wrong with the current mech market. The vast majority of mech designers and mech pilots did not treat their mechs with sufficient respect.
He detested this careless attitude towards mechs. It encouraged neglect and sloppiness. Even if mechs were tools to be used in war, many lives depended on how well they were treated.
"My mechs are designed to meet the needs of those who care about their mechs. I want to reward good behavior by having the mech repay the care and attention it received."
In other words, he wanted to portray his living mechs as loyal partners to their mech pilots.
Inspiration suddenly struck Ves. He spontaneously muttered a short phrase that neatly encapsulated his design philosophy.
"Living mechs. Partners for life."
It sounded like how a motto ought to sound like. Even though it was just a couple of words strung together, their combination expressed a very clear and distinct set of meaning.
The only problem with this motto was that it still possessed a very abstract quality that made it difficult to imagine what a living mech actually looked like. While the strong X-Factors of his mechs helped convey the unique quality of his mechs to his customers, it was difficult to recognize it as a concrete asset when nobody except Ves could fully explain their uniqueness!
Still, Ves liked the motto he came up with. He didn't feel the need to come up with another motto that strayed away from his design philosophy in the name of dumbing down its abstract nature.
The motto served as a starting point to the principles that the LMC should abide by, but it wasn't enough. Just these words alone would never be able to align his entire workforce due to how wide it could be interpreted.
How could Ves describe the motto succinctly?
"Living mechs are mechs that are responsive to their mech pilots. We describe them as partners for life because all of our mechs are designed to accompany their mech pilots in as many battles as possible for as long as they can. Our mechs are partners for life because are designed to adapt to their owners!"
Perhaps it was a bit of an exaggeration to describe his mechs as partners for life. A typical mech career piloted mechs until they reached old age where their mental agility no longer kept up with their mechs. From start to finish, this typically took fifty to sixty years.
That was enough time for mech pilots to use at least three different mechs. As older mechs aged and became obsolete, they came under stronger pressure to change to a newer mech model.
Under those practical circumstances, it was unheard of for mech pilots to stick with a single mech for the entirety of their careers.
Yet Ves did not intend to change his motto despite this inaccuracy. Who knew if conditions changed in the future and the rate of advancement slowed to a point where mechs remained relevant for sixty years instead of wearing out within just ten years.