Just like Raymond Costa, Carla Dio provided her own feedback on the Crystal Lord. Ves listened with rapt attention as she soberly listed out the good and bad points of the Crystal Lord.
"My Crystal Lord is a great if somewhat difficult laser rifleman mech." She stated in front of the crowd of workers. "It really takes a couple of months to get used to its additional capabilities. As far as its battle performance goes, it does the job really well. I really like the lighter laser rifle because it is easier for me to pivot the aim of my mech. The respectable endurance of the Crystal Lord is another highlight of its design, I think. It's really great to be able to outlast enemy laser-armed mechs in an even matchup."
Of course, aside from the praise, she also didn't hold back when it came to its shortcomings.
"The Crystal Lord is a very capable mech with its combination of firepower and armor. However, in some ways I feel as if I would rather have more of the former than the latter. Make no mistake. I have truly come to enjoy piloting a mobile ranged mech clad in compressed armor plating. It's just that any damage that my Crystal Lord endures is very expensive to fix. Mr. Costa who spoke earlier already described this problem, but it is especially more acute with the Crystal Lord because its armor coverage is a lot thinner!"
The thinner layers meant that its resilience towards light damage decreased by a substantial amount. Simply said, the Blackbeak would be able to withstand light damage without suffering more than a scratch in its coating. The mech technicians would not have to expend any resources to fix the integrity of the armor plating in question because it succeeded in bouncing away projectiles without suffering any dents.
On the other hand, the Crystal Lord's much thinner armor layers meant that their structural resistance to damage was a lot weaker. When Ves initially designed this mech, he deliberately put mobility first and armor second. This design direction led to a lot of consequences, and the flaw mentioned by Carla Dio was especially serious.
Aside from the problems with the armor system, Carla also aired another frustration. "The firepower of the Crystal Lord is also weaker than a premium mech ought to possess. Whereas most expensive rifleman mechs offer greater and greater firepower, your Crystal Lord instead chose to emphasize its armor. This is all well and good, but several times I contemplated whether it would be better to replace the lightweight laser rifle your company supplied with this mech with a heavier one from another company."
Ves admittedly hadn't prioritized the Crystal Lord's firepower as well as he should have. The core purpose of a laser rifleman mech was to output firepower from a distance. Good armor wasn't always needed for this mech type. As long as it hit hard enough, then it didn't need to be resilient. Along as it was paired with a knight mech, it could fire its rifle to its heart's content!
"I think the Crystal Lord is very self-sufficient. My can threaten both landbound and aerial enemies and it possesses enough armor to win most duels against distant opponents. Its high flexibility and agility along with its light rifle also comes very handy if an enemy light mechs tries to dance around my mech."
Carla continued to provide her opinion on various aspects of the Crystal Lord. When she finally finished describing what she thought about the mech, someone in the audience asked a question.
"What are you doing now? Are you still working for the Violet Orions?"
She shook her head. "The Violet Orions disbanded. There was no point for me to rebuild the mercenary corps from scratch. I only took over the corps long enough to wrap up its assets and insure that families of our mech pilots received their pensions. The Mech Corps provided very generous compensation for the losses our mercenary corps has suffered, but we spent most of it to wind down the debts we accrued. With the end of the Violet Orions, I'm a free agent right now. Ownership of the Crystal Lord has also fallen to me, though I'm not sure whether I can stomach stepping on the battlefield again."
Many mercenary corps suffered the same fate as the Violet Orions. The mercenary business was very lucrative. Otherwise it wouldn't have attracted so many mech pilots into the private sector.
Yet risk always accompanied reward. The more lucrative the contract, the more risks a mercenary corps incurred!
The generous contracts offered by the Mech Corps blinded many mercenary commanders into accepting missions they weren't actually equipped to take! This was exactly what happened with the Violet Orions!
Ketis sympathised with the woman who shared her story. "Carla looks rather pitiful. She's all alone, Ves. Why don't we extend an offer to her to join your Avatars of Myth? She's really skilled and she owes her life to one of your products."
"If she decides to apply, then I'm sure Melkor will welcome the opportunity to bolster the Avatars of Myth with a capable rifleman mech pilot. The decision is up to my cousin." Ves calmly replied. "Besides, I think Carla Dio still hasn't gotten over her trauma yet. She needs some space while she tries to reorient her life after her stint with the Violet Orions."
Introducing the audience to a mech pilot with a sad story to tell depressed the overall mood of the audience. A rare moment of solemnity overtook the workers as they realized that the mechs of the LMC weren't powerful enough to reverse every defeat.
Even so, this only emphasized the fact that the LMC had much to go before they reached that point! While the mechs they provided could not guarantee victory by itself, as long as they did their best, they could stack the odds in favor of their customers!
The customer feedback sessions continued for several hours as mechs moved in and out of the giant auditorium stage. More and more customers shared their stories to the workers attending the session.
Each of them asked questions to each other and both sides obtained clarity.
Above all else, Ves noted with satisfaction as a kind of collective pride began to emerge among his subordinates sitting down below. Hearing the tales where the mechs of the LMC excelled in battle in some way made them realize that the company made a real difference to their customers!
At the end of the day, all the other mechs got carted off from the stage, allowing Ves to step forward in front of the audience.
Everyone stood respectfully at his arrival. As the founder, leader and lead designer of the LMC, Ves was the single most important person of the company!
"Thank you." Ves said. "I will make this short. Today, I hope you all learned something from the stories that our guests have shared. Our relationships with our customers never end after we have completed our sales and delivered our mechs. The LMC is continually invested in the wellbeing of the mech pilots that are piloting the mechs that carry our brand are depending on our own hard work! Tell me, what is the motto of our company?"
"Living Mechs! Partners for Life!" The audience thundered in unison.
"Exactly!" Ves smiled. "These words not only represent our determination to provide our customers with the best mechs to entrust their lives to, but it also represents our commitment to maintain our relations with them! I don't want to please them with a single mech. I want to please them so much that they will keep coming back to our company to purchase additional mechs that bear the qualities that only we can provide! The Living Mech Corporation is a company that seeks to make all of our customers into lifelong partners!"
This ideal sounded so ambitious and uplifting that the audience couldn't help but stand up and applaud!
Ves never felt his workers so committed to their missions as right now!
Once the session ended and every departed the auditorium, Ves spent some time to personally thank the mech pilots for their candidness before he left himself. He walked back to the headquarters alongside Ketis.
"That was quite a day." She said thoughtfully. "I thought the LMC was not that important considering its only selling two different mech models. I was wrong."
She always knew that the company that Ves had founded sold a lot of mechs, but not until she personally came in touch with some of his customers did she realize what a big deal the LMC truly represented.
This was a company that supplied thousands of mech pilots with high-quality mechs!
Ves idly smiled. "The amount of models a company offers isn't related to the impact that they make to their customers. I could have pumped out more designs if I wanted to. Instead, I took the time to meticulously design just two original mech designs. Each of them are carefully designed to provide my customers with the best tools to survive their battles. I hope that you wil be as thorough with your own designs one day."
From Ketis' impressions and remarks, it became clear to Ves that the customer feedback session had been a success. Not only did the audience foster a shared identity due to feeling pride over enabling the mech pilots to perform at their best, they also developed a lot of respect for the company that made it all possible!
Even Ketis, who always held an awkward position in the company up until recently, became affected by the LMC's effort to indoctrinate its workforce!
It was kind of scary for Ves to see her begin to develop a sense of belonging to the LMC! He did not set out to brainwash her when he brought her to attend the first feedback session!
This incident taught Ves the potency of indoctrination and how easy it could worm its way into the hearts of unsuspecting people. The only reason why Ves was able to remain detached was because he was the one who started it all. He'd be a pretty stupid leader if he started to believe in his own hype.
"So where are you at the moment with the Aurora Titan design? Are you really going to go through with designing a fatty mech?" Ketis asked.
"Don't call it a fatty mech, please." Ves admonished her with an exasperated tone. This wasn't the first time she called his upcoming design by that undignified phrase. "I've finished collecting feedback. I've heard all there is that people have to say about the Aurora Titan. It's a flawed and skewed design, I admit, but it has its charm. Sometimes, you just have to go through with designing a mech even if most people around you disapprove."
Ketis snorted. "I still think you're wasting your time. What kind of mech pilots wants to pilot a fatty mech in the first place?"
"Aesthetics are not indicative of battle performance, Ketis. As a mech designer, you should know better than evaluate a mech by its appearance."
"Says a mech designer who likes to go artsy with his original mech designs. Don't think I haven't noticed how frilly your gold label Blackbeak appears and how disturbingly haunting your Crystal Lord looks. I know you well enough that you care a lot about the appearances of your mechs. Don't you hate it that your mech looks so bulky?"
"I've already made my peace with it. Besides, I made sure to design its contours in a way that it doesn't look so round anymore. It's not fat. It's large and in charge."
"Keep telling yourself that if that makes you feel better Ves, but to me it will always be a fatty mech in my eyes!"
Ves figured that Ketis would not be the only person to fat shame the Aurora Titan. No matter. His big boy's performance would blow all of its critics out of the water! Just witnessing its X-Factor up close should be sufficient to shut Ketis up!