While Ves was pleased that Ketis shared his enthusiasm for designing mechs, he hated seeing her squander her energy like this. The variant she came up with might be decently put together when it came to its technical performance, but the lack of a coherent vision made the mech seem like a mere collection of parts in his perspective!
This was pretty much blasphemy to Ves! How could he tolerate the haphazard way that Ketis designed her variant?
"Come sit down with me for a moment."
The two moved over to a nearby table where Ves always ate his meals at. Once they made themselves comfortable, Ves picked up the miniature and waved it around.
"This is an interesting variant. I can see that you've applied much of the new knowledge you've learned. Whether it's mechanics, physics, metallurgy and more, you've all shown you possess at least a basic level of competence in applying the knowledge you've accumulated in those fields. The only problem here is that while you've been so focused on applying your mind that you haven't applied enough of your vision and your heart."
That remark threw Ketis off a loop. "Okay, I get how I screwed up with not having a clear vision for my design, but what does my heart have to do with my work?"
"That's a complicated question to answer. Have you heard of the saying that mech design is both an art and a science?"
She nodded. Most mech designers encountered the phrase in their earlier textbooks on mech design.
What Ves found out after meeting many different mech designers was that they brushed right past the meaning of this saying!
"I don't get it, Ketis. You've seen me at work so often and you even received an opportunity to contribute to the Aurora Titan's design. You've heard me describe some aspects about my design philosophy and learned some of the principles that my mech company adheres to. How can you forget about all of that when you designed your variant?"
"I thought.. it was something special about you. I never saw Mayra put too much emphasis on the stuff you cared about. A mech is a mech, right?"
"A mech can be more than a mech." Ves emphatically replied. "While I am aware that my beliefs aren't all that transparent, that doesn't mean you should ignore all of my best practices. There are some methods that you can easily apply. I think a mech designer like you is best served with adhering to the prior vision method."
"Figure out a solid vision for your mech before you begin your design work? I tried that, Ves, but I wasn't quite sure if I can implement all of the stuff I wanted to see in my design. This is all very new to me, you know, so I mostly spent my time trying out various stuff to see what worked."
"That's the approach of a student who aren't familiar with their limitations. You'll outgrow that once you get some more practice under your belt."
Ketis kept frowning. The more Ves pointed out her inadequacies, the more her confidence faded from her body.
"I guess I still have a lot to go before I design a good variant." She muttered.
"It's not so bad. At the very least, I can see from your miniature that you have a sufficient eye for detail. Your technical competence is a lot better than most Novices. You just have to adopt an approach to mech design that makes good use of your strengths."
Ketis' approach to mech design was as chaotic as a huge mob of rioters. A different mech designer who possessed a much shallower foundation would nonetheless be able to design a much better variant than hers if their approach was like a small but disciplined army!
"An important concept in mech design is the utilization and application of knowledge." Ves said. "This is why physics professors and excellent academics who are at the top of their fields are incapable of designing a mech that can surpass the work of a fresh Novice. They are capable of solving many problems, but they aren't trained to put together a mech."
The importance of maintaining a solid vision of a work began to dawn upon Ketis. "I think I get it. You're saying that a vision helps me coordinate my knowledge and makes sure I use them in the right way."
"That's the gist of it. It's clear that you've spent way too much time in the library lately. You need to return to performing a lot of practical exercises in order to for you to learn how to apply your gains. Designing a variant like this is a start, but I hope you develop solid visions for your next projects."
Ketis nodded with sparkles in her eyes. She wanted to rectify her earlier mistakes and design a variant that matched the one in her mind!
"What about that other stuff, about the heart and such?"
"That goes further into the phrase I mentioned earlier. Now that you have tried your hand at designing a complete variant on your own, have you paid any attention to the heart of your mech?"
"Uhh.. I think I was too busy trying to get the technical stuff to work to worry too much about that." Ketis morosely explained. "I think my lack of vision for what my mech is supposed to be didn't do me any favors in this regard."
Ves picked up the miniature again and played with it for a bit. "While you are free to adopt any design methodologies that you like, I highly suggest you try my ways. Not only will it make it easier for us to collaborate in the future, I truly think it will do your mech designs much good if they are designed to be coherent from the start."
"So how do I have to approach my design work?"
This was the moment where Ves stood at a crossroads. While he already resolved to share some of his methods, he didn't want to override her developing design philosophy with an imitation of his own. He needed to be very careful with the advice he gave.
"I think.. it is enough of a start if you imagine that your designs all possess a metaphorical heart. While I know this sounds rather silly considering that mechs don't have hearts, but it makes a real difference in your work if you treat them with love."
"Loving a mech design.."
"It's not as absurd as you think. This plays into the artistic side of mech design. Have you ever witnessed art created by AIs?"
Ketis shook her head.
"Well, they're pretty but shallow. Either they are pale imitations of existing masterpieces, or mathematically-oriented nonsense that is completely meaningless to humans. The point is that certain mech designers are so caught up in the technical aspects of their designs that they lose sight of more holistic concerns. I don't want you to fall into the same trap."
The analogy really shed a light in Ketis. "Ah, so I have to act less like an AI and more like a human when I design a mech?"
"Exactly! Designing a mech is like raising a child. You don't want them to put them in school all day and have them learn all the basic subjects. You want them to live out a full life full of joy and meaning as they grow up. Only then will your children grow up to be great individuals. It's the same with mechs. The heart you shaped for them plays a very important role in tying all of the tangible and intangible elements of the mech together."
Ves only started with these basic points but Ketis already looked overwhelmed. He decided this should be enough for her to chew on for the moment.
"Think over my words and see if you can apply them in your own work. I think your subsequent designs will be a lot more remarkable if they possess hearts!"
Naturally, Ves did not refer to literal hearts. He didn't wish Ketis to do something gruesome in the mistaken belief that she needed to integrate her mechs with actual organs! That sounded way too much like the extreme behavior of a very deviant fugitive mech designer!
Ketis looked down at the mech miniature she made and let out a frustrated grunt. "This mech has no heart at all. It's nothing like the original Blackbeak!"
She angrily picked up the mech miniature and moved over to the trash chute to chuck the useless object away. Far from impressing someone, Ketis only managed to display her shortcomings in a physical form!
As Ketis wrapped up her work in his private lab, Ves turned to Lucky who had finished his sumptuous meal of minerals. The cat currently lazed about in the air.
Ves grabbed his gem cat. "As for you, Lucky. Don't think I've forgotten about your transgression."
"Don't you meow at me. You know exactly what you've done. My lab is off-limits to anyone except for us! Heck, the only reason why I gave you permission to enter is because you'd phase through the walls and floor anyway if I refused to clear your entry. That doesn't mean it's okay to bring people over who aren't authorized to enter this place!"
Lucky knew he was in trouble this time. The cat did as he had always done in response to earning the ire of his owner and attempted to turn intangible and phase through the floor.
Not this time!
Ves exerted his full concentration and attempted to lock Lucky's spirituality in place!
Different from last time, Ves was now a Journeyman! His Spirituality had grown significantly stronger ever since his loose design philosophy compacted into a solid design seed!
It worked! Lucky was far weaker when it came to spirituality and could never beat Ves in this regard! Not only that, but Ves also became much more adept at controlling his Spirituality.
All of these changes made it so that Ves had finally gained to power to prevent Lucky from slipping out of his grasp!
"Meow! Meow! Meow!"
Lucky yowled with panic as he desperately tried to slip away, but no matter how much he squirmed, his body simply refused to shift into an incorporeal state!
Ves grinned at his wayward pet in a devious manner. "You won't escape your punishment this time, Lucky. What should I do with you? Should I dump you in a bath and wash you? Should I lock you in a box and deprive you of minerals for a month?"
Lucky's yowling grew twice as loud!
"Hahaha! I'm just kidding." Ves said in a teasing manner. "While I'm still pissed at you, you're simply too cute to be punished."
"I forgive you."
Lucky seemed to relax at that moment and sank into Ves' arms.
"Yeah, I love you too. Even if you are naughty every now and then, you're still my companion."
After Ketis wrapped up the equipment she used and put them into their places, they left the lab floor.
The next day, Ves met with Gavin again who returned with various reports on the situation at the Ylvaine Protectorate. Although inserting himself and his company into the Protectorate's contentious political battles seemed unwise, the reward was simply too good to pass up!
"This offer won't be on the table forever, I think." Gavin noted as Ves speed-read his way through dozens of detailed reports on a data pad. "Madame Cecily might be a bit fond of your work, but every day that passes is another day her life is under threat."
"I understand, Gavin. I know I have to make a quick decision on whether to accept this commission. I think I'm almost getting around to the idea. The only issue here is the odd conditions she supplied with her request."
"Madame Cecily is really insistent on her demands." Gavin helplessly shrugged. "She doesn't want you to design and fabricate the hero mechs she requested from home and export them to the Protectorate. There are too many opportunities for bad actors to intercept the shipment or to tamper with them along the way."
The commission called for Ves to visit the Ylvaine Protectorate in person and use the component licenses and production equipment that Madame Cecily prepared beforehand!
The client really wanted to meet Ves in the flesh to discuss the details of the design in person!
"It seems I'll be going on vacation for a couple of months."