Finalizing a mech design meant that the System would inevitably evaluate the design. While Ves felt very curious about learning what the System thought of the unprecedentedly strong X-Factor of the Aurora Titan design, he held himself back from activating it right this instant.
"I designed the Aurora Titan for myself."
He did not design the Aurora Titan to impress Professor Ventag, to make a lot of money, to enhance his reputation or to please the rigid priorities of the ambiguous System.
In fact, Ves felt disgusted at himself for his impulse to immediately reach for the System like a Pavlovian dog salivating for treat from its master.
"I think I deserve a break."
Ves decided to take a few days off in order to clear his mind and readjust himself to his changed mental landscape. The lengthy presence of Qilanxo's spiritual fragment in his mind left a lot of marks behind. Not only that, he never felt he was completely alone while the fragment still resided in his mind.
It was simply too lifelike for Ves to dismiss it as a soulless entity.
While it didn't hurt to take a few days off, he should also try to regain his peak state as fast as possible.
If Ves wanted to make the best possible splash during the product reveal, then he needed to show the Aurora Titan in its best state. How better to accomplish this goal than to present a number of gold label mechs?
"I have to be in the best condition possible in order to fabricate the most impactful copies of the Aurora Titan."
Even without reading the System's evaluation for the Aurora Titan's X-Factor, Ves also sensed its extraordinary strength. What kind of benefits the X-Factor provided, Ves frankly didn't know. However, they would most definitely allow the Aurora Titan to stand out to the mech pilots who came in touch with a copy!
Ves already looked forward to seeing the reactions of his customers. The Aurora Titan was meant to fulfill the needs of space knight pilots, after all. If he couldn't satisfy their desires, then he considered the design to be an abject failure.
"Hopefully, the market can look past its weaknesses and appreciate its strengths."
Ves particularly cared about how Jannzi Larkinson took in the new mech. As a member of the Avatars of Myth, she was entitled to pilot some of his best mechs. The Aurora Titan he planned to provide her would not only be a gold label mech, but also incorporate one of Lucky's super gems.
"Your byproducts will finally play a role again, Lucky." He told his cat who was lounging on a cat bed placed on his imposing desk.
"Yeah yeah, I know. I haven't made use of your gifts for a long time. It's different now. The Avatars of Myth deserve the best of what I can offer. After all, my safety is in their hands so it stands to reason that their mechs are better than the rest."
The powerful effects of Lucky's super gems made Ves feel a bit leery about implementing them in any commercial mechs. If anyone ever compared a gem-augmented mech to a non-augmented mech of the same design, then they would find that the disparity in performance was too blatant, especially when the differences reached as high as forty percent!
Ves couldn't risk his secret sauce being found out. Even if he made use of the Anonymizing Stamp to hide the presence of the gem, determined researchers would still be able to sniff it out through employing a process of elimination.
It was best to keep this advantage close to his chest. By customizing the mechs a bit, Ves could worm the super gem into its frame and use the excuse that the elevated performance was due to the more expensive exotics he added to the mech or something.
"Custom mechs always perform better than standard mechs. It stands to reason that their parameters are higher."
Ves considered this a good way to camouflage the effect of the gems. Not only that, but the benefits brought about by the changes to the standard design would also synergize with the effects of the gems, thereby multiplying the performance gains!
Since the gem-augmented mechs strictly belonged to the Avatars of Myth, their abnormally high performance wouldn't be at risk of any outside scrutiny! It was his personal mech troop after all. Why would he conduct an investigation in his own mechs?
Ves picked up Lucky and carried him against his shoulder as he left his office. Every employee in the headquarters of the LMC was used to seeing Lucky alone or in the grasp of Ves or his confidants, so he did not attract more attention than the usual admiration and hero worship that he already received.
His ploy of making his workers and the public get used to see him carrying around his mechanical pet continued apace.
Ideally, Lucky would become an inseparable accessory of Ves in their impression of him. This was because aside from his gem production ability, Lucky was his strongest bodyguard!
Ves paused his journey alongside a wall that depicted the company's logo with the motto placed underneath.
All this time, the LMC adopted a stylized depiction of Lucky resting comfortably on a rainbow cloud surrounded by a triangle.
"It's a shame it's outdated." He remarked.
Back when he initially conceived of the logo, Lucky looked like a bronze mechanical contraption. After consuming a lot of exotics as well as high-quality Rorach's Bone and whatever materials the CFA put into its shuttle and gear, Lucky looked very different now.
While he was still as small as an organic cat, Lucky's exterior pulsed with glowing blue energy between his metallic white exterior plating. The gem cat looked a lot more futuristic than when Ves initially received him as a gift from the System.
A gift that Ves found out hadn't been a random prize from a lottery ticket. Instead, his mother deliberately rigged the System somehow in order to put Lucky in his possession.
Ves still didn't know what to think of it. Despite Lucky's intimate relationship to his incorporeal mother, he still considered his pet to be his closest companion.
In some way, Lucky was the family pet. That perspective made it a little easier for Ves to accept his cat's uncertain origins.
He turned his attention back to the logo. Even though Lucky's exterior no longer looked like bronze, Ves didn't think it was worth the effort to implement a vast and costly company-wide change just to reshade the company logo.
"With your bottomless appetite, you'll probably look different again a year from now."
Lucky tried to look innocent, but Ves knew better than to take his cute pet at face value. The heart of a gluttonous devil resided inside the metallic bone shell of his cat.
"Well, let's move on."
Ves continued to carry Lucky downwards until he reached the ground floor. Some security guards automatically followed him as he made his way outside and beheld the cloudy skies of his home planet.
"I can never get tired of this sight. Others might think this planet is drab, but to us its home."
Lucky probably didn't care. He was a cat, after all. The only concerns on his mind was eating valuable minerals and exotics while making sure that his master remained alive to continue feeding him these goodies.
Ves leisurely strolled across the garden-like plaza of the Mech Nursery and reached the annex of the complex reserved for the Avatars of Myth.
Their base so far became increasingly crowded as the Avatars continued to expand their ranks. Ves figured that at some point it would be best to erect a separate base for his personal force.
Melkor stepped out of the administrative office of the Avatars of Myth and greeted Ves in person. "I've received word that you are heading this way. What brings you to our base?"
For a moment, Ves admired the sight of the Blackbeaks, Crystal Lords and various other mechs in his sights.
"I wanted to check up on Jannzi." He said. "She's been practicing in the simulators, right?"
"Correct. Ever since you tasked her with piloting a show model of your new mech, she's been hard at work trying to master its intricacies. She's really devoted to doing the best job possible. All of us know what your new design means to you and the company."
It gladdened Ves to hear that Jannzi maintained her diligent practice all this time. "How good is she with the latest virtual version of the Aurora Titan?"
"Why don't you see for yourself?"
They moved over to the practice facility which hosted a large variety of training equipment for the mech pilots. The Avatars made use of quality simulators to train the mech pilots, though no simulator could ever model reality with total accuracy, so the actual benefits didn't compare to practicing with actual mechs.
If not for concerns about accelerating the wear and tear of their existing mechs, the Avatars of Myth would be practicing with actual mechs all the time.
When Ves, Melkor and Lucky stepped into a control room that administered the simulators, they called up a projection that depicted Jannzi's current practice run.
It depicted a harrowing battle while Jannzi's Aurora Titan desperately tried to shield three vulnerable rifleman mechs against a full company of enemy rifleman mechs!
It was impossible for the Aurora Titan to shield its fellow mechs from the onslaught of firepower pouring in from each direction. The enemy ranged mechs surrounded their outnumbered prey on all sides.
Yet even if it was impossible to shield her comrades in every direction, Jannzi didn't go down without a fight! The Titan glowed in gold and white as it mustered out as much energy as possible to present a shielded front against the most intensive volleys of incoming fire!
"I can last longer!" She shouted to herself as she gritted her teeth.
The Aurora Titan proficiently absorbed pinpoint laser beams with polarizing fields that were only a couple times larger than the radius of the beams. This was a very efficient application of the polarizing fields as it was just large enough to block the laser beams and its scattering heat!
Even so, much of the shield and armor plating of the Titan slowly turned to slag or vaporized away as the mech endured volley after volley of laser fire!
Eventually, the Pisaro armor plating gave up the ghost, exposing its internal components to space. Laser beams quickly raked the gaps, inflicting substantial internal damage to the mech! I f not for the effort that Professor Ventag put into compartmentalizing the internal architecture of the mech, a couple of laser beams might have already crippled Jannzi's virtual mech!
Even so, the widening armor breaches gave the enemy mechs more and more opportunities to beat up the Aurora Titan from within. The insides of the Aurora Titan was nowhere near as resilient as its exterior armor plating, so the mech finally succumbed from all of the damage a short time later!
The simulation ended!
"Damnit! I lasted shorter than the last time!" Jannzi berated herself as one of the simulator pods cracked open.
She suddenly came to attention when Ves and Melkor entered the room that hosted the simulator pods.
"Melkor! Ves!" She yelped and straightened her back.
"At ease." Ves said with mirth. "You don't have to act like we're in the military. We're family."
She still looked nervous though. Even though Melkor was her older cousin, he was also the force commander of the Avatars of Myth. Meanwhile, Ves possessed an eminent status in the Bright Republic. His bank accounts alone was rumored to be countless times bigger than the Larkinson Estate's entire investment portfolio!
"You performed quite impressively in the last simulation." Ves praised. "You lasted several minutes longer than an average mech pilot would have lasted in the same position."
Jannzi firmly shook her head. "It's not enough. I know my uncles and aunts would be disappointed in me if they witnessed my performance. It's just that the strain of using the polarizing module to block laser fire coming in every direction is too burdensome for me to cope."
"Don't be ridiculous, Jannzi. It's not every day the Aurora Titan will find itself surrounded from all sides by an entire mech company. It's inevitable that the Aurora Titan will succumb when caught out alone with only a couple of friendly mechs by its side. A regular space knight wouldn't perform any better in the same situation, you know."
"I know it's just a practice exercise." The female Larkinson said. "It just gnaws at me that I still have a lot more to go before I can perfect my use of the polarizing module."
"Well, if you are really determined to do better, just wait until you receive one of the first copies of the finalized design of the Aurora Titan. I expect you'll be able to perform real miracles with my new mech!" Ves grinned.