The LMC invited mech pilots like Raymond Costa to share their story to the company's employees. This way, every worker directly derived more meaning out of the LMC's missions.
Yet this was not the extent of this gathering. The mech pilots invited to talk with a couple of hundred employees also gained an opportunity to air their likes and dislikes about their mechs. Otherwise, why call it a feedback session?
"I love my Blackbeak. It's great." Raymond said, unabashed with lavishing praise on his machine. "I think the Blackbeak is a well-engineered mech. Its high-quality components and armor system always makes other envious. What I particularly like the most is that it doesn't compromise too much protection for the mobility it provides. You can't imagine how many enemies I took by surprise by how fast my Blackbeak stormed up to their faces! If not for the high price tag of your model, the Distant Pholons would have ordered more copies already!"
"What do you think the Blackbeak can do better?"
"No mech is perfect. Even I can't claim the Blackbeak is the perfect knight mech." Raymond shook his head in mild regret. "As much as I love my own mech, I'm not blind to the flaws and limitations of its model. First, its sensor systems are not very good. The Blackbeak can never be sent out on solo patrols because its too susceptible to enemy ECM. Second, its melee combat capabilities are below average because its flexibility and peak power is not up to par."
Hearing these points all struck an echo with Ves. He already knew of the various flaws his Blackbeak model possessed.
Yet knowing it did not mean he could wipe them away with a single design revision. Mech design was all about making calculating trade-offs with each design decision. Something always had to give, and Ves chose to cut back on the aforementioned areas in order to preserve its strengths.
"The armor system of this mech is also really hard to work with according to my mech technicians. We are always forced to order new plating from your company because our own mech technicians and facilities aren't equipped to produce compressed armor plating. It's rather annoying that it consists of three distinct layers. Even if only the top layer sustained damage, the entire armor plate has to be written off afterwards because we don't possess the ability to restore the top layer."
The Veltrex armor system offered good protection when its initial cost was taken into account. However, the various properties that Raymond mentioned showcased a problem common to many midrange and premium mechs. Their armor was too darn difficult to repair by themselves! It was also very expensive to repair the armor because most of the value of the mech lay in its armor system!
Ves aimed to reduce the ongoing costs of maintaining a mech with his upcoming Aurora Titan design. Yet that did not help his existing mech models at all. Even if Ves decided to modernize the designs of the Blackbeak and the Crystal Lord, he would still be unable to do much about the problem concerning the expense of maintaining their armor systems.
The high running costs of operating an expensive mech was one of the main reasons why mech buyers felt reluctant to purchase a premium product! Not only did they forked over a huge amount of money upfront, but they constantly bled money over time as well!
After Raymond Costa had his say, the mech pilot of the Crystal Lord stepped up. She was a woman this time who looked at the audience with a morose expression.
"To be honest, I don't really want to share my story with you all. The only reason I accepted is because of the money your company offered. With my current circumstances, I need every credit I can get."
The audience did not expect to meet with such an individual. The woman instantly made a sharp contrast to Raymond Costa, who provided everyone with an uplifting feedback session.
"I am Carla Dio, and I'm the only surviving mech pilot of my outfit. I used to be the second-in-command for an up-and-coming mercenary corps called the Violet Orions. With the war going on, we did brisk business with the Mech Corps, who offered highly-paid contracts to guard their infrastructure. Costa's Distant Pholons accepted one of them and the Violet Orions were no different. The money was simply too good."
During every war, the Bright Republic would never let their mercenary corps stay idle. Through a mix of laws and enticements, they encouraged every mercenary corps to help contribute to the war by guarding various installations and facilities vital to the war industry.
Yet that did not always deter the Mech Legion from sending out a long-ranged raid to wreck these sites.
"Back when the Violet Orions accepted the contract to guard an exotics mine at some rural planet, we thought the Mech Legion wouldn't come for us. It was too remote and the mine wasn't really all that critical either. We were wrong. The Mech Legion deployed enough landbound mechs to outnumber us twice over!"
The projector in the background began to depict some of the footage of the battle. Violet-colored mechs fell left and right as a Vesian mech cavalry company overran their defenses in an instant! With the Vesian melee mechs wrecking the Violet Orions up close, Carla Dio's Crystal Lord desperately disentangled from the brawl while shooting its slim laser rifle at any Vesian mech in range.
Even though her Crystal Lord and a handful of lesser rifleman mechs managed to fell some Vesian mechs, it was far too late to make a difference by then! Most of the mechs of the Violet Orions had been taken out! Not only that, but the Vesians even sent out light mechs to hunt down the ejecting cockpits as they flew away into retreat!
Over the next fifteen minutes, Carla Dio described her desperate flight into the wilderness where she was constantly being hounded by Vesian mechs.
"The Vesians sent their own mercenaries after the stragglers." She said. "A Vesian mercenary company called the Laser Dogs accompanied the raiding force and sent out entire squads of light beast mechs after my Crystal Lord."
The projector depicted the iconic mechs of the Laser Dogs. Ves and Ketis both took in the design of their laser-armed canine mechs. Their four-legged build enabled them to navigate rough terrain a lot better than regular humanoid scout mechs. The laser weapons mounted to their heads enabled them to harass enemies from a distance and pool their firepower together when they traveled in packs, as they did against Carla's Crystal Lord!
"My comrades got hunted down one by one by the Laser Dogs. Even though we hit them back plenty of times, their sheer numbers made it impossible for us to defeat them entirely. Over time, ony my Crystal Lord was the only mech of the Violet Orions that still stood! I continued to run deeper into the wilderness while turning my rifle around to fire back at my pursuers. Perhaps the Laser Dogs grew complacent now that they are only chasing after a single target, because only six of them continued the pursuit!"
The projection showed the Crystal Lord coming under increasing fire from the rear. Despite the light firepower of each Laser Dog beast mech, getting peppered with lasers by six of them at a time quickly began to degrade the Crystal Lord's armor integrity.
"At some point, I felt like I had to go out with a bang. There was no point in running because the Laser Dogs navigated the wilderness better than my Crystal Lord. So I turned around my mech and fought back while my energy cells still lasted!"
What ensued was a battle which pitched lasers against lasers!
Despite being outnumbered by six-to-one, the Crystal Lord was a premium mech while the Laser Dog mechs were budget mechs at best. This quality differential helped even the odds, though it was still a stretch for a single mech to fight against these odds!
Yet Carla Dio never faltered in her counterattack! She was prepared to go all out and take down as much enemy mechs as she could in a final blaze of glory!
Her Crystal Lord boldly ran forward while enduring constant laser fire. The difference this time was that its thicker front armor and its chest crystal absorbed most of the incoming fire! This gave the Crystal Lord enough of a buffer to get up close and barge into their loose formation!
By bobbing and weaving through their formation, Carla caused her enemies to hesitate in pulling the trigger for fear of hitting friendly mechs! Even though the mechs of the Laser Dogs took on a canine design form, they were actually no good in melee battle!
The Crystal Lord wasn't good in melee either, but the difference in quality and the fact that it could enter in the middle of their formation without concern bode ill for the Laser Dogs!
"It's impossible to miss the enemy mechs at this range." Carla grinned slightly as footage of her burning holes into the frames of the light mechs ran behind her. "I demolished two mechs in quick succession by overloading my laser rifle."
Unfortunately all of that fighting and activity strained its laser rifle, causing it to run piping hot! When she managed to disable two of the Laser Dog mechs, the four remaining enemy mechs had finally gotten their wits together separated from each other to surround the Crystal Lord from all four directions.
Carla's mech was surrounded with no way to escape!
Yet did she and the Crystal Lord ever falter? No! Even as laser fire pelted the Crystal Lord from each direction, she calmly focused on one target at a time! Even though the Crystal Lord was forced to slow down the firing rate of its laser rifle due to heat management problems, it nonetheless managed to take out a Laser Dog mech in a single instant when she unleashed a powerful light beam from its chest crystal!
"I've always felt a bit dubious about the practical use of the crystal mounted in the front of my Crystal Lord, but I have to admit I couldn't have taken out a Laser Dog so fast without that powerful shot!"
Even though Carla Dio only piloted a silver label Crystal Lord, its chest crystal had still been empowered by the alien crystal in the LMC's exclusive possession. So far, competitors hadn't been able to reproduce anything like it in the Bright Republic!
The Laser Dogs lost another mech in quick succession, easing Carla's burden. After focusing her firepower on another Laser Dog mech, she deliberately aimed to damage its limbs in order to compromise its mobility. Even as she did so, her Crystal Lord's chest crystal continued to accumulate more energy as lasers fired from the front attracted a lot of firepower.
For some reason, the Laser Dogs had the mistaken impression that the Crystal Lord's chest crystal signified a weak point!
This mistake cost them dearly because as soon as the mech in Carla's sight started to hobble due to all of the damage its front limbs had taken, a powerful light beam hit it square in the head!
This inexplicably powerful light beam not only took out yet another Laser Dog mech, but also broke the remaining two enemies! The two surviving Laser Dogs halted their attack and fled with their tails tucked between their legs!
The footage of that final moment depicted Carla's mech in an awful state. Almost every part of the mech was steaming with heat or melted armor plating. Even though it shared the same armor system as the Blackbeak, its plating was a lot thinner, so the constant barrage of weak lasers from the Laser Dogs took a toll on its armor integrity.
Nevertheless, no matter how awful the sole surviving mech of the Violet Orions looked, it still stood standing on the battlefield with pride!
"The Laser Dogs gave up on pursuit." Carla stoically said. "I ran as deep into the wilderness as I could, so I was in no place to offer any meaningful resistance against the Vesians. Eventually, they left when reinforcements from the Mech Corps finally arrived. My mech was practically running on fumes by then. Sadly, it's far too late for the Violet Orions."
Despite the sad outcome of the Violet Orions, Ves still found inspiration in Carla's continued survival. Her mech played a pivotal role in keeping her alive. Knowing that his design saved her from a very likely death gave him just as much fulfillment as hearing how Raymond Costa managed to reverse a battle with the help of his Blackbeak!
"This is what it means to be a mech designer." He said to Ketis. "Each and everyone of our mechs is doing something useful in the hands of our customers."
For her part, Ketis had become fully engrossed in the stories she heard. She already started to dream about what she could effect with her own design!