The next day after his visit to the DCTI, Ves intended to supervise the final preparations for the upcoming product reveal.
However, Professor Ventag rang his comm first thing in the morning.
"Ves, there's trouble! Go read this article first!"
The professor sent him a link to an article published in the current edition of the Bentheim Mech Report, an authoritative mech publication in the Bentheim mech community! While not every mech designer and mech pilot read or watched it every day, its standing was among the highest!
When Ves followed the link, he came across an article with a very pertinent headline.
THE TRINITY OF WEIGHT CLASSES: WHY LIGHT, MEDIUM AND HEAVY MECHS ARE THE ONLY PROPER MECHS
BY PROFESSOR NORMAN PENDLETON
Ves knew of Professor Pendleton. He was a famous Senior Mech Designer and a professor of the Ansel University of Mech Design.
He specialized in mass reduction and weight management, which was a complicated way of saying that he was really good at making his mechs mass lighter than they ought to!
This was a very valuable specialty because every design project he became involved with resulted in mechs that moved faster while retaining almost the same capabilities.
Therefore, Professor Pendleton held a considerable amount of authority on the subject of weight classes.
As Ves rapidly read through the article, he basically got the gist of it. Professor Pendleton claimed that the custom of artificially categorizing mechs into light, medium and heavy mechs had become so ingrained in the mech industry that there was no longer anything artificial about it. Each weight class came with their own strengths and weaknesses, but they were so well balanced that any other weight class besides these three categories were inevitably worse!
"This article is very biased." Ves frowned at the text before looking up at Professor Ventag's projection. "The timing of it is even more suspicious."
The Senior nodded. "It's not a coincidence that the Bentheim Mech Report published this article a day before our product reveal. My sources have found out that the Ansel mech designers have managed to uncover some information about our design! They're already starting to spoil the launch."
"Why would they do something like this? It's just a single mech."
"It's because of me." The professor admitted. "My enemies have to haunt you. Any project I'm involved in will eventually face opposition from the mech designers associated with Ansel."
Ves was already aware that Ansel might oppose him, but he didn't think they would take action so directly. Publishing this opinion piece a day before the Aurora Titan's announcement was a direct shot across the bow!
A single opinion peace in a single publication could single-handedly change public opinion. Not under ordinary circumstances. However, if Ansel took the article as a basis and criticized the Aurora Titan in multiple occasions, then the damage could quickly build up to become a major threat to his design's success!
"Is Ansel really so bored that they are taking their valuable time out of their own work to criticize my work?" Ves asked with dismay in his voice.
"The AUMD is very cognizant of their status as the premier mech design university on Bentheim and the Bright Republic. They are constantly fighting to remain in first place, and this attack is a part of their overall strategy to discredit every mech designer associated with the DCTI as much as possible!"
The goal was not to discredit the Aurora Titan, but rather the people involved in its design! Professor Ventag may have attracted Ansel's attention at first, but Ves' willingness to work with a mech designer from the DCTI inevitably made him their enemy as well!
Ves felt as if he got dragged into a war between two irreconcilable mech design universities. No matter how much he professed his neutrality, Ansel would always recognize him as an enemy!
"This article isn't their only attack, right?"
"Correct. This is just the start. Aside from wielding their considerable influence in the local mech publications to agitate against the very idea of the Aurora Titan, Professor Pendleton has personally sent word to me that he will personally attend the product reveal!"
Obviously, Professor Pendleton of the AUMD would not come to cheer Ves and Professor Ventag on as they revealed the Aurora Titan!
"What?! Did you reject his attendance?"
"I can't, Ves. That's not the way that mech designers work. Any mech designer who publishes a design in such a public fashion will need to be prepared to face public scrutiny over their works. If you block Professor Pendleton from entering, then he'll use his own media presence to roast your design as much as possible. Not only would we be unable to neutralize his criticism on the spot, but he'll also use the fact that you barred him entry into the Grand Skyward as an act of cowardice!"
Basically, to bar his critics from entering provided proof that Ves wasn't confident enough in his own design. Such a perception could prove fatal to the success of the Aurora Titan design!
Ves already envisioned facing a tougher crowd than expected. If Professor Pendleton heckled the design from the side, then his status as a Senior Mech Designer from the most renowned mech design university in the Bright Republic might allow him to steal the show!
Who in the audience would ever question a Senior when he argued against a mere Apprentice?
To that end, Professor Ventag offered to take over for the product reveal. "I know that the Aurora Titan is mostly your creation, but a heckler in the form of a Senior is a grave threat, one that you aren't equipped to handle. Let me take over the presentation."
"The Aurora Titan is my principally my mech design." Ves stated emphatically, and he said those words with his heart. "It is a great mech design, and while it isn't perfect, it stands on its own merits! With such a good product, Professor Pendleton would have to work hard to tear it down! I don't think another Senior is required to defend the Aurora Titan! I will do!"
The professor shook his head over the comm. "I admire your enthusiasm, but this is the big leagues. I don't need to tell you how incisive and formidable a Senior can be when he wants to pick apart a mech design. I know Pendleton well enough that he'll be perceptive enough to point out every single flaw and weakness of your design and magnify them until they drown out its good points!"
"THIS IS MY DESIGN!" Ves yelled.
The outburst came so violently that Lucky yowled and jumped out from his lap in alarm!
It even brought the professor to a pause. "You care about it a lot."
"I do." Ves said with a tired voice.
"You're making a very poor decision here, Ves."
"I don't care. It's my design. It's my responsibility to defend it during its introduction to the public. Am I wrong?"
"You are making an emotional decision instead of the right decision. Please sober up, Ves."
"Dare to design."
"Isn't that what you imparted me back then? I followed your advice. I came up with a radical mech concept and worked with it until it resulted in the Aurora Titan design. Since I dared to design a super-medium mech, why wouldn't I dare to face a Senior that is heckling my design?"
"Ves, I keep telling you, Professor Pendleton is extremely skilled at analyzing mechs. Your entire design will be exposed regardless if you showed him the schematics or not. With his access to the MTA's database, he might have already called up the schematics from the license catalog. The MTA just validated the design, after all."
This meant that Professor Pendleton would have done his homework on the Aurora Titan design. There truly was no hiding from his criticism if he had access to the nitty gritty details!
Ves personally experienced the damage such acid words could do. Hadn't he single-handedly turned away the Blind Men from attacking the remnants of the Flagrant Vandals and the Swordmaidens by incessantly criticizing their shabby mechs?
This would be similar, but this time Ves would be on the receiving end!
Yet Ves did not waver in his fighting spirit. Even if a Master Mech Designer came to scorch his mech design, he would still fight back tooth and nail!
Ves stood behind each of his mech designs!
Just because an authoritative figure in the mech industry decided that they didn't like it was no reason for Ves to abandon his own work and distance himself from it for fear of suffering damage to his reputation!
A true mech designer stood by his work no matter what storm it endured. That didn't mean that Ves should consider his design to be the best design ever. He merely believed that its combination of strengths and weaknesses still resulted in a mech that brought very real benefits in the right conditions!
That was enough of a reason for the mech design to exist!
Ves and Professor Ventag argued back and forth over this issue for a while, but Ves insisted on going through with the original plan.
His principles and his pride as a mech designer accepted nothing less!
"Fine." Professor Ventag said, throwing in the towel. "You're making the wrong decision here, but I've seen how stubborn mech designers can get with regards to their own creations. If you employ at least this much vehemence against Professor Pendleton tomorrow, then you might be able to salvage some regard for the Aurora Titan."
"Thank you, professor. I know it looks as if I've impulsively decided to argue against a Senior, but I'm not going to underestimate his threat when I walk up to the stage tomorrow. I'll prepare for any criticism he might mention and develop some responses beforehand."
A mech designer knew their own designs the best. Ves was more than capable of pointing out the weaknesses of the Aurora Titan. If he could do that much, he could also develop counterpoints for why they existed and how they facilitated the other strengths of his design.
However, the professor did not intend to let Ves take on the full brunt of Professor Pendleton's criticism alone.
"Just to be sure, I'll be present in the front row myself. We should maintain contact with each other through a private communication channel. I can provide you with some advice on how to respond to Professor Pendleton's arguments. If he ever mentions something related to my own specialty, I'll stand up and defend my design choices by myself. You should grant me at least this much."
Ves nodded after a few seconds. He could concede at least this much.
"Will there be other complications during the product reveal tomorrow?"
"As I've stated earlier, Ansel wields a considerable amount of influence at the various mech publications based in Bentheim and Bright Republic. They are giants in the mech industry, and no publication dares to cross them. Not if they want to keep receiving invitations to attend their press conferences and other events."
"Are these publications going to torch the Aurora Titan design regardless of what happens tomorrow?"
"It's not that bad. Some mech publications lean towards Ansel while some take pride in remaining objective. Even the former will sometimes publish articles that criticize the works of Ansel mech designers if they are really bad. This is also the reason why the Bentheim Mech Report remains so authoritative despite its Ansel slant."
In other words, the journalists of these mech publications did not work directly for Ansel. Ves could work with that. The outcome of the fight tomorrow would not be in vain. As long as he did a good job in defending his controversial mech design, then enough publications might come around to take his side and approve of the Aurora Titan!
"I don't see Norman Pendleton as a threat." Ves said.
"He's also an opportunity. As long as we can beat his arguments and convince the audience and the mech publications that the Aurora Titan is a good design despite its unusual weight class, then other skeptics won't be able to command much respect!"
If even a Senior Mech Designer couldn't tear down the Aurora Titan, then how could the public be so easily convinced by a lesser critic?