In order to fabricate the best Aurora Titans for the upcoming product reveal, Ves obtained a special shipment of raw materials.
The metals, alloys and composites used in the fabrication of a mech was not as consistent as mech manufacturers would like. Various impurities and imperfections resulting from rushed and careless processing led to various inconsistencies in the materials.
Therefore, like any mech company, the LMC first scanned the materials in order to determine how many inconsistencies and impurities they contained. Any batch of materials that contained too many flaws would soundly be rejected and sent back to the supplier.
Aware that something like this might happen, Professor Ventag went out of his way to have NORA Consolidated ship an excellent batch of materials to Cloudy Curtain. It was enough to fabricate six complete copies of the Aurora Titan!
When the mech technicians scanned the materials and inspected their quality, they couldn't help but sigh in admiration at the lack of impurities! They were almost completely flawless!
"All of these materials are the cream of the crop." Chief Cyril noted to Ves, who visited the warehouse floor in order to supervise the inspection process. "Our existing suppliers are nowhere near as good as those who have a long-term relationship with a big mech company like NORA Consolidated. The suppliers give their fixed customers the best batched at reasonable rates, while dumping their excess batches of middling quality into the open market."
In other words, up until now, the LMC only received the leftovers from the big suppliers in the Bright Republic.
This wasn't as bad as it sounded like. Any company that did business in the open market needed to deliver what they promised, or they would run afoul with the law.
Even so, no company promised that the batch of materials they delivered would always be of acceptable quality.
Did Ves wanted to keep working with materials of mediocre quality? Of course not! Yet establishing a close relationship with a supplier did not come about just because he wanted to. A company led by an Apprentice Mech Designer simply didn't sell enough mechs to earn the consideration of all the major suppliers!
"Right now, the LMC hasn't acquired enough standing in the mech industry." Ves stated frankly. "Only until I advance to Journeyman or the company sells ten times as much mechs will they finally realize that we exist."
"How long will it take to reach that point?"
"Not long, I hope. Please finish the inspection of the materials. I want to work with them as soon as possible."
The mech technicians didn't rush their work but instead continued to perform their duties diligently. Even though they hadn't found any major issues with the materials they received, Ves still wanted to be absolutely sure that neither the supplier or some nefarius third party tampered with the batch."
He couldn't rule this possibility out. Ves had various enemies and his recent exploits garnered him the attention of even more opponents. Ruining the upcoming product reveal by fudging with the materials used in the fabrication of the show models sounded like an easy way to ruin his career.
The mech technicians found nothing amiss. Even though it took a decent amount of time to inspect the special shipment, Ves felt relieved that all the elements were in place to fabricate the inaugural copies of the Aurora Titan.
"These gold label mechs will set the standard for this mech model!"
Ves went to work with the excellent batch of materials. They were simply too tempting for him to leave aside, so after a bit of prepwork they had all been transferred down to the manufacturing floor.
After some consideration, Ves decided to fabricate his new mech with one of the new Hanover production lines instead of the old Dortmund production line. The specialized production equipment of the Hanover production line shared some resemblance to the high-quality machines in Professor Ventag's private workshop facility.
"It's better to fabricate my components with specialized equipment rather than leave it entirely to an all-purpose 3D printer."
Specialization often led to greater results. The Hanover production lines may have been a potentially ruinous investment for the LMC, but Ves could not deny that they deserved their price.
To assist in the fabrication process, Ves enlisted the aid of Ketis and some of the best mech technicians of the LMC. He felt confident that his Spirituality was strong enough to minimize the influence of others during the fabrication process. As long as he played a pivotal role in the creation of the mechs, their X-Factor would still remain pure.
They worked slowly. Ves wanted to insure as little imperfections carried over into the physical copies of the design. He instituted regular breaks in order to relax his mind so that he would be able to return to his peak state.
During these breaks, engaged in regular conversation with Ketis on the nature of their work.
"The Aurora Titan should be the first mech design in which you are formally credited with its development." Ves said.
"Really?" She perked up.
"Yep. As long as the MTA completes the validation process and puts its stamp of approval on the design, you will be credited as one of the handful of assisting mech designers who participated in our joint design project!"
That was no small honor for a mech design as sophisticated as the Aurora Titan! Even though she would be placed alongside a number of other Novices and Apprentices from NORA Consolidated that performed all of the simulation work, Ves believed that Ketis already got off to a great start in her career.
Naturally, Ves deserved most of the credit as the lead designer in the joint project. While he couldn't have designed the Aurora Titan so well without the help of Professor Ventag, the Senior was content with leaving behind his name on the project as a lesser co-designer.
As the first production mech of the Aurora Titan design slowly took shape, Ketis and some of the mech technicians already began to feel its remarkable nature. Even in an unfinished state, the Aurora Titan's X-Factor already started to exert its influence!
"There's something funny about this mech." Ketis frowned after the first production mech was halfway done. "Ever since I arrived at the LMC, I often studied your mechs, you know? Your designs are all remarkable from the schematics, but they always manage to look even better up close. This mech carries that same quality, but there's something very different about it! What did you do with the mech that makes it stand out so much?"
Ves confidently smiled back at Ketis while he petted Lucky who was nuzzling on his lap. "Do you recall my design philosophy?"
"Something about making mechs come alive and turning them into valued partners for mech pilots. To be honest, I never understood your design philosophy. Even now, I still can't say what you are trying to achieve, but this mech.. this mech has given me a clue."
"All of my mechs are special, Ketis. Out of every mech designer in the galaxy, there is hardly anyone who treats them with more care and affection than me. All of these mechs are my babies in a sense."
The old Ketis would have dismissed the unusual nature of the unfinished mech frame. The new Ketis who gulped a large amount of candy was different.
"I'm starting to think your design philosophy has a lot more going to it than I initially thought. What are you hiding, Ves?"
"What makes you think I'm hiding anything?"
"Oh come on. The way you describe your design philosophy and the LMC's principles is so vague and obtuse that it's clear to me that you're holding something behind your back."
Ves shrugged. "Perhaps you're right. If what you say happens to be true, then I can hardly reverse my course all of a sudden. Some secrets are too dangerous to divulge."
"No secret lasts forever, Ves."
"I know, but I can at least enjoy it while it lasts."
"Why am I even here, Ves, if you don't trust me with your secrets? Your whacky design philosophy isn't the only funny business going around here. Lucky here is able to do things that shouldn't be possible for a mere pet of its size, and there's also your abrupt and stupendous pace of improvement!"
Ves turned his full attention to Ketis and subjected her to to some of his Spirituality. "Some day, I'll tell you my secrets. Until then, I suggest that you keep learning and progressing so that you will become worthy to learn my secrets."
Ketis nodded vigorously, causing the poofy beret on her head to flop back and forth. "I understand. I'll do my best to catch up to you. Even though my design philosophy is nowhere near as complicated as yours, I don't think my mechs will be any worse than yours someday!"
"That's the spirit!"
The first production mech of the Aurora Titan continued to take shape. Even though NORA Consolidated already fabricated a copy of the finalized version of the design for the MTA, Ves did not really consider it as a true representation of his design.
No. The true first production mech in his eyes would be the mech that took shape in front of him. Within a closed hall of the Mech Nursery's underground manufacturing floor, the mech continued to gain in size and mass as Ves added more and more parts to its frame.
At the end of a four-day fabrication process, the mech was close to finished!
Ves looked considerably more exhausted as he exerted his utmost focus and attention on getting it right. If all went according to plan, then Jannzi Larkinson would have the privilege of piloting the first production mech! It was therefore of vital importance to him to get it right the first time!
Even though the mech still required some additions to announce its completion, the sheer spiritual strength that emanated from the mech already floored Ves. Within his spiritual sight, the mech glowed with life. Each single part glowed with spiritual energy. Its X-Factor pulsed with life.
This was the most living mech that Ves had ever seen!
Even Ketis and the mech technicians looked impressed, and they had been working on the mech for days!
"This mech looks quite complete." Ketis said. "What more do you want to add?"
"The finishing touch." Ves replied mysteriously and climbed up to the cockpit of the mech alone with only Lucky hovering over his head.
The mech designer and the mechanical cat both plopped inside the cockpit where Ves took out a very familiar gem to Lucky.
The determination of a great human mech pilot is caught within this gem. Increased the spiritual feedback of a mech by 40 percent.
Ves wanted to bestow the mech intended for Jannzi Larkinson with a special property. Out of all of Lucky's super gems, he finally decided to go for the Ardent Wish.
While other super gems such as the Sin of Altruism elevated the performance of the mech in a much more concrete fashion, Ves did not think it was prudent to implement it in a mech intended to be used as a show model.
"This mech and four others like it will be put on display in Bentheim in a few weeks. There will doubtlessly be instances where it will be used to demonstrate its performance."
With that much media attention, Ves simply found it too risky to make Jannzi's mech stand out so much. As a show model, Ves couldn't customize the design in order to provide some cover for the benefits brought about by the super gems.
The only super gem that would work in this case was the so-called Ardent Wish. This odd gem applied purely to the spirituality of a mech, boosting it by as much as 40 percent!
If Ves applied this super gem to one of his bronze label mechs, then it would have been an enormous waste. His bronze label mechs exhibited the weakest X-Factor of all of his mechs, so boosting it by 40 percent would simply simply turn it into a mech with a weak X-Factor.
"This is very different, though."
A 40 percent amplification of a mech with the most powerful X-Factor that Ves would ever be able to achieve for now would be absolutely huge!
Ves had already treated the super gem with his Anonymizing Stamp. This convenient tool provided by the system ensured that the gem would not attract any attention from any scans or inspections, at least directly.
Not that the gem carried anything that attracted attention aside from its remarkable luster.
After taking a deep breath, Ves affixed the gem in the position of the button that allowed the pilot to activate the mech.
As soon as he installed the super gem and the golden plate that served as its label into the cockpit, the mech was finally complete.
Ves felt a thrum from the cockpit seat. It was a thrum that resonated with his Spirituality instead of his body!