After over four months of intensive design work, the Aurora Titan had essentially reached a feature-complete state. All the parts that needed to be added had been added to the mech.
Meanwhile, Professor Ventag already completed the design's internal architecture a while ago. For a mech designer of his ability, he didn't have to wrack his brains too much to pair the Aurora Titan with a fantastic internal architecture.
Professor Ventag offered to perform the testing entirely on his end, but Ves refused.
"It's my design, mostly, so I need to see whether the mech performs up to my expectation."
"You have never designed a spaceborn mech before." The professor frowned over the comm. "Even though your theoretical knowledge of spaceborn mechs is surprisingly extensive, that does not change the fact that your company doesn't have the requisite infrastructure to test spaceborn mechs."
Eventually, they decided for Ves to come over to Bentheim and fabricate the first prototype of the Aurora Titan design at one of NORA Consolidated manufacturing complexes. He would then take the prototype to the larger mech company's testing facility in an isolated star system in the Green Nebula region.
It entailed quite a bit of travel, but it ensured that Ves would be able to take advantage of NORA Consolidated's best facilities. The professor was right in stating that Ves and the LMC weren't equipped to put the Aurora Titan to its paces.
"I guess we'll be returning to Bentheim again." He said to Lucky as he ended his comm call with the professor.
"I know Bentheim isn't safe for us, but we'll be spending most of our time at NORA Consolidated. It's not as if we're going to be strolling down the middle of Dorum's boulevards."
"Oh, alright. I'll purchase some exotic treats for you when we're there."
Lucky climbed on his shoulder and affectionately rubbed his cheek against Ves.
After Ves exited his lab, he called up Ketis to inform him of their impending departure.
"You're taking me along?" Ketis asked.
"Yup. I think you'll benefit from visiting Bentheim and witness the scale of NORA Consolidated's production facilities. I'm sure you'll also be able to learn some lessons when we test the prototype in space. Just because the design is feature-complete doesn't mean it is fit for the market. All the simulations we've performed so far does not account for every quirk that can happen in practice. Mech designers like us have an obligation to make sure that our mech designs won't inadvertently blow up and kill our own customers."
Hearing this already made her excited. "I can't wait to help out!"
Ketis quickly raced off to her apartment to pack her luggage.
To be honest, the help she provided so far didn't amount to much. Even the sword she designed was something Ves could come up with himself. Rather than include her in the design process to benefit from her assistance, he was merely preparing her for a time when her specialty truly became distinct enough to provide value to his mech designs.
Every mech designer needed to start from somewhere. Not everyone benefited from the advantages that enabled Ves to skip over these learning experiences.
Before he departed to Bentheim, Ves enjoyed a short period of respite from his intensive design work these last few months. Working time after time on refining the Aurora Titan design with the help of the spiritual fragment in his mind was still arduous to his mental capacity.
"This is not the easiest way to design a mech, that's for sure."
Yet he considered these pains to be worth a necessary price to pay. The Aurora Titan's X-Factor became increasingly more potent and more defined under their cooperative efforts.
Drawing from the observations he made during his last Mastery experience, he learned that the strength and potency of the X-Factor largely came from the mech designer!
More specifically, Ves learned that he could take measures to accelerate the growth of the X-Factor of his design by employing a number of methods.
The most direct one would be to replicate what Qilanxo had done by transferring his spiritual energy to the X-Factor of his design.
Ves felt very leery about this option, though. Ves hadn't quite developed a complete picture of how scarce spiritual energy was and how hard it was to replenish it. Right now, he maintained the notion that while spiritual energy could regenerate or be replenished from within his mind, it was quite a slow process!
Ves had only recently topped off the spiritual energy I've lost during my previous Mastery experience!
All of this pointed out that just like Qilanxo, Ves could not expend his spiritual energy willy-nilly to perform feats of wizardry. Imbuing the Aurora Titan with raw spiritual energy from his own mind was the crudest way of empowering it. Aside from being wasteful, Ves also didn't master the technique to blend his spiritual energy with the X-Factor of his designs.
Therefore, aside from fixating on quantity, he would much rather focus his attention on the quality and uniformity of his design's spirituality.
A good and coherent set of values and beliefs that Ves wanted to impart to his design served as the basic foundation of its X-Factor. It didn't matter how strong the X-Factor measured to his spiritual sense if it all became a muddled mess at the end due to engaging in too many flights of fancy!
When Ves kept track of his design's developing X-Factor, Ves faced a notable increase in heterogeneity when Professor Ventag began to work on the internal architecture.
Ves always expected something like this to happen. Even if Ventag didn't consciously mean to contaminate the X-Factor of the Aurora Titan with his own spiritual imprint, his design philosophy exerted so much influence that it could not be ignored.
Having anticipated this problem, redoubled his effort into overriding the professor's imprint with his own. In this aspect, Qilanxo's spiritual fragment again proved to be a lifesaver as its strong and potent energy remained undefeatable even against the influence of a Senior Mech Designer!
"How strong is Qilanxo, really?"
By directing the powerful spiritual fragment to imprint itself on the X-Factor of the Aurora Titan design each time Professor Ventag made another contribution, Ves ensured the mech remained coherent on a spiritual level!
Employing these methods showed Ves that it wasn't impossible for him to retain his specialty even when he collaborated with higher-ranked mech designer. The only issue was that Ves wouldn't always have a powerful, friendly, and responsive spiritual fragment at his disposal.
Inevitably, Ves would need to substitute this function using his own strength if he wanted to employ the same tricks in his future designs.
In the meantime, he would milk his temporary advantage for all it was worth.
Not only did Qilanxo's spiritual fragment ensured the purity of the Aurora Titan's X-Factor, it also supplied much of its quantitative strength. Eventually, the two would merge and become one and the same.
What the end result might look like, Ves couldn't tell, but it was bound to be a groundbreaking event!
"I'm getting ahead of myself." Ves shook his head. "I need to make sure that the technical aspects of the design is up to standard."
A crappy mech design paired with a fantastic X-Factor was still a failure in his eyes. This was because Ves mainly considered the X-Factor to amplify the performance of a mech and mech pilot duo. It could only work with the resources at its disposal.
"I can't control the quality of the mech pilot, but I can make sure the mech won't be a disappointment!"
According to the Senior's own opinion, the performance of the design would definitely not disappoint. While it was larger, less mobile and more expensive than regular medium space knights, the Aurora Titan made up for it in sheer defensive capabilities.
Even without running a prototype of its design through realspace tests, Ves and the professor could already glean that much from their own work. It gave strength to the argument that they should start with an asking price of 100 million credits for the most basic model.
While Ves hadn't made up his mind on this issue, he increasingly came around to the professor's viewpoint.
"An Apprentice Mech Designer would not easily charge that much for one of their designs. The mech market would laugh at him for being too greedy. It's different for a Senior, though. Even though the professor's contribution isn't all that great, it is undeniable that the Aurora Titan is also his design as well. With his credibility behind our joint project, it is a lot easier to get the market to accept a higher price point."
Another, more pragmatic reason behind charging a lot at the start was to account for future depreciation and reductions in price. At this moment in time, the current generation of mechs was in its sunset period.
Any mech designs published in the next couple of years would only be able to sell for its list price for a short period of time before being forced to discount it by twenty percent or more!
"By the time the new generation commences, the Aurora Titan would still be profitable even if it sells for 80 million credits."
This was the kind of shrewd marketing that ensured the design's longevity and relevance in a changing mech market.
"It's kind of like making a product seem more attractive by raising its base price by fifty percent but then offer a forty percent discount to customers!"
Even though buyers forked out more money for the same product as before, they gained the illusion of picking up a bargain due to the deceptive way the seller applied its discount!
"The Aurora Titan is really only worth about 80 million credits in my eyes. Charging 100 million at the start won't exactly do wonders for its cost effectiveness, but it will be a different story when the MTA finally rolls out the next mech generation."
All of this meant that Ves should not expect brisk sales of his Aurora Titan design at the start. Instead, the pricing scheme suggested by Professor Ventag paved the way for it to become a sleeper hit.
As long as more and more people began to see the merits of the Aurora Titan model, sales would continue to pick up in increasingly greater quantities. The early adopters who paid 100 million credits for a copy essentially paid extra in order to get a head-start!
"As long as the early buyers of the Aurora Titan pairs the mech with a mech pilot who knows what they are doing, I think they'll be very thankful they got in first."
Essentially, only Ves had an inkling of his Aurora Titan's full potential. Its technical performance should already be on par, but the strong X-Factor piled on top of it should elevate its actual battle performance to another level!
The significance of this design and the many insights he learned along the way stoked his design philosophy like never before. Not a single day went by where he hadn't been passionately involved in the design project.
To Ves, designing mechs such as the Aurora Titan provided him with a sense of fulfillment. He was developing something that no one else could match.
It was the kind of satisfaction that someone derived from doing a good job. Ves felt he was doing something useful by innovating on something hardly any mech designer paid attention to. His design philosophy eagerly resonated with his satisfaction, causing it to gain in splendor.
It wouldn't be long before the butterfly broke from its cocoon.
"Even if I advance, it will take a while to gain official acknowledgement of that." Ves regretfully shook his head.
The MTA only recognized Journeymen who designed at least five original mechs. These mech designs also had to be serious efforts rather than competition designs or trash designs that a mech designer came up with in a handful of days.
With the Blackbeak, the Crystal Lord, the Enduring Protector and his upcoming Aurora Titan designs under his belt, Ves only needed to design one more original mech design to meet the MTA's demands.
Ves already formed some ideas on what he should design next, but first he needed to finish his current project.
"Off to Bentheim, then."