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 When it came to family members who joined the Avatars of Myth, Ves was willing to set aside some of his rules.

He never told the customers of his mech how to best use their mechs. Mech pilots and the owners of his products all had their own way of doing things. It would be far too intrusive for the mech designer to butt into their midst and force them to listen to his advice.

The only place where he could exert such control was with the Avatars of Myth, but even then Ves felt leery about enlightening the hired help with hints that alluded to the secrets related to spirituality.

Out of all the people he wanted to succeed, he wanted his family to reap the greatest benefits!

Therefore, Ves made an informed decision to slowly elucidate the likes of Melkor and Jannzi to how they could draw upon the hidden potential of their mechs!

The only challenge was that Ves did not want to be too direct in the event the secret might leak out. Just like describing his design philosophy and the LMC's founding principles, he needed to take an indirect approach in order to set Jannzi on the right path.

He began by repeating the company motto.

"Living Mechs. Partners for Life. You've heard of it, yes? Before you do anything else, just think over those words. Do you think they apply your bond with the Shield of Samar?"

His cousin furrowed her brows. "I'm not a deep thinker, Ves. I'm not sure what you're getting at. I thought that phrase is just a clever marketing slogan."

"The company motto functions as that, but more. It describes the essence of what I'm trying to accomplish with my mech designs. Think about the Aurora Titan design. Each and every copy is exceptional. Yours is in fact the most special because it's not only the first production mech, but also because I showered it with a bit more attention."

"So what exactly is so different about the Shield of Samar that can help me pilot it better?"

Ves hesitated for a moment before he decided on the best way to approach the issue. "My mechs are designed to be.. Adaptive."

"Adaptive? You mean they change?"

"Yes, but not on a purely technical or hardware level. Instead, the man-machine connection between you and your mech can change in response to your attitude towards your mech. This automatically happens to each of my mechs regardless of who is piloting them, but there are certain methods you can employ to hasten the changes and quickly deepen your connection with your mech."

"So what are these methods?"

"Well, first, you should think about the core purpose of the Aurora Titan. Why does it exist? What is it meant to do?"

"It's a defensive space knight. It exists to defend friendly mechs, ships and other assets in space." Jannzi stated the obvious.

Ves nodded. "That's correct. The Aurora Titan does that but to a greater extreme. It is an obsession for mech, in fact. If you can adopt a similarly single-minded focus towards its core purposes, then you are moving closer to its essence of existence. The closer the two of you are aligned, the deeper your connection with your mech and the more responsive the piloting experience will become. Do you understand me up to this point?"

"I guess." She frowned. "What does this have to do with the adaptiveness of my mech? It sounds like I'm trying to make myself more suitable for my mech instead of the other way around."

"That's a fair point to make, but the closer your mindset matches to the core purpose of the Shield of Samar, the less the mech has to exert itself to adapt to your presence. Think of it as an intimate relationship. Both you and your mech are trying to get closer to each other in order to form a strong and enduring bond. This isn't something without a consequence because it can definitely affect your performance with your mech!"

Jannzi scratched her head. "So you're basically saying I should marry my mech?"

"If that is how you understand it, then sure. If you love your mech, your mech will love you back. Not directly, mind you, but the Shield of Samar will definitely be able to unearth your full potential if you are of one mind with your machine!"

All of this vague advice confused Jannzi a bit. She understood the sentiment that Ves tried to convey, but she simply couldn't wrap her head around how all of this would even be possible.

Was the mech governed by an extremely sophisticated AI that constantly tweaked the software of the mech to respond more readily to her thought patterns?

She understood too little about the technical side of mechs. She could only take Ves at his word and try out some of his advice.

"I'll give it a try. Is there anything else I can do to help me pilot my mech better?"

The next bit of advice came a bit closer to the secret concerning expert pilots. However, the Larkinson Family was not completely clueless about it. They often emphasized the instillment of a core set of family values to every mech pilot in order to facilitate a coherent belief that would serve as the core of their force of will.

The only flaw with that approach was that the force of will needed to adapt to the specialty of the mech pilot.

"This will sound a bit esoteric, but I need you to pilot the mech with a strongly focused mindset. Don't worry too much about the company, our family and all the people that are watching your performance. Just try and dedicate most of your mental concentration to the core values of your mech. The purer your thoughts, the more closely you will mesh with your mech."

"That's very dangerous, Ves." She said. "A mech pilot constantly needs to extend their awareness in each direction. What if I become so focused on showing off that I won't be able to spot the space debris about to crash into my machine?"

"I'm not telling you to be so immersed that you lose your situational awareness." Ves shook his head. "My research on the man-machine connection has taught me that mech pilots will generally achieve better results if they didn't share so many irrelevant thoughts with their mechs. I've designed my mechs to react better to mech pilots who are strongly focused with values aligned to their design."

"This is a little hard for me to wrap around." His younger cousin frowned. "Can you give me an example?"

"Sure. Let's take an aggressive mech pilot like Raella Larkinson. You've heard of her, right?"

"Yeah. She quit the family a few years ago."

"She's a very aggressive person and that plays well with her mech specialty and fighting style. Raella is eminently suited to pilot to pilot light skirmishers. Now think about what would happen if she piloted the Shield of Samar instead? Let's leave skill out of the equation and just assume that she can pilot a space knight just as well as a landbound light skirmisher. Would she be able to muster up as much potential with the Shield of Samar as you?"

Jannzi answered back with another question that expressed her doubt. "A mech is just a mech, right? Why is it so picky about their mech pilots?"

Ves sighed and shook his head. "Jannzi. After spending several months with the LMC and the Avatars of Myth, I would have thought you would have learned that mechs are more than just machines. Try considering them as living machines that have their own thoughts and emotions. You've sensed some of that with the Shield of Samar, right?"

"Right.."

"Treat your mechs right, and they will back you up. The more you open your mind to your mech and the closer you align yourself to its purpose, the more responsive the mech will become to you. This is what makes my mechs stand out from the machines designed by other mech designers. They regard mechs as disposable tools. I'm different. All of my mechs are designed to be more than tools. They are designed to be partners!"

The overall message that Ves wanted to convey to Jannzi was to treat her mech like a partner rather than a machine. This went against the general lessons that mech pilots received in their mech academy days.

Mech pilots were taught not to get attached to their assigned mechs. They learned to take care of the mechs, but only to the extent of avoiding unnecessary wear-and-tear.

According to the mech academies, mech pilots needed to be adaptable enough to pilot several different mechs when the situation called for it! This did not only entail piloting an identical copy of the same mech model. A versatile mech pilot should be able to jump into the cockpit of a different mech model without requiring any adjustment period!

Ves knew that his advice went against the grain of what the mech academies tried to instill, and Jannzi knew that as well.

She raised her eyebrows. "So essentially, you want me to focus completely on mastering the Shield of Samar?"

"In a way. That doesn't sound so bad to you, right?"

"The Shield of Samar is a great mech." She nodded. She finally came around to his advice. "I think.. if you will allow me to, I'd like to stick with the Shield of Samar for the long haul."

This was what Ves wanted to hear. "As long as you perform well enough with the Shield of Samar, the mech will continue to be assigned to you. I'll make sure Melkor knows what to do. Just keep my advice in mind when you pilot the mech. If you aren't using the Shield of Samar to its full potential, then I won't hesitate to take it back and assign it to a more promising space knight specialist."

This finally caused Jannzi to panic and widen her eyes in alarm. "Don't take away my mech, Ves!"

With how attached Jannzi had become to her new mech, the threat of taking it away from her would make sure she stayed on her toes!

Ves clapped his hands and deactivated his Privacy Shield. "Alright! That's all I wanted to pass on to you. Get ready to board your mech. The Grand Skyward will still take some time to move into position, but try and apply some of the advice I've imparted to you while you are warming up your mech. I think you'll be able to achieve some immediate results as long as you adopt the proper mindset."

"I'll keep that in mind, Ves."

"One more thing. Don't tell anyone about what I just said, alright?"

"Why? Shouldn't more people hear your advice so they can pilot your mechs better?"

"They're not exactly applicable to everyone in every situation. I don't want to cause any trouble to my mech pilots that can get them killed. The LMC will have to pay billions of credits in legal fees to fend off all of the lawsuits that will ensue."

Jannzi nodded in understanding, accepting the excuse that Ves had casually thrown out.

To be fair, a non-mech pilot really shouldn't be giving advice to a mech pilot on how to do her job. People had gotten in trouble before by giving out improper advice to mech pilots that caused them to make stupid moves that risked not only their own lives, but the lives of their comrades as well!

Even mech designers had to be careful on the advice they gave out. Just because they knew how to design a mech didn't mean they knew how to pilot them to the best effect!

As Jannzi began to climb into the cockpit of the recently-enhanced Shield of Samar, Ves made his way back to the stage where the audience would soon be allowed to witness the show models in action!

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