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 The more the Ylvainans wanted to put him down, the more he wanted to defy their expectations.

Ves became driven to design a mech that proved everyone wrong. He wanted to reverse the setbacks he suffered and deal a painful blow to his enemies.

To that end, he decided to pull out all the stops. What did it matter if he acted a little bit unscrupulous? His finished product would put all of his sins to rest.

In order to see whether his latest idea worked, he foisted a dangerous task on Lucky.

After the terrorist attack on the Grand Church of the Grey Martyr, the place had been closed off to the public. A careful rescue and recovery process took place that recently finished.

All of the bodies, whether alive or dead, had been dug out of the ruined grand church.

Once the authorities dealt with this priority, they slowed down their excavation work and carefully removed all of the important relics and objects from the place.

The museum wing that Ves visited before also suffered a collapse. According to the news, the ceiling went down on at least half of the wing, burying many displays underneath an enormous amount of rubble.

Some of the displays even broke, exposing the relics within to an untold amount of damage!

Rescuing and salvaging these exposed relics became a very delicate operation. The Attendants of Ylvaine would not be able to bear it if they inadvertently damaged the relics connected to the Grey Martyr even further when they hastily dug them out of the rubble!

Therefore, the recovery process slowed down to a crawl. Many relics still remained buried underneath. The Attendants of Ylvaine employed the best experts to calculate the most optimal way to recover the historical objects.

This left Ves with a valuable window of opportunity! Stealing a relic buried underneath a lot of rubble was a lot easier than trying to steal them from a heavily-monitored museum or high-security vault!

If the Attendants of Ylvaine were known for one thing, it was that they treasured their relics as if they were personifications of the great figures themselves!

All of the caution they displayed at the moment exceeded the care and attention shown by the rescue services! The lives of average Ylvainans weren't as important as the integrity of the relics that the Grey Martyr had personally held all those centuries ago!

While those buried relics may be troublesome to recover to most people, that didn't apply to Lucky.

Convincing Lucky to raid the relics took quite a bit of effort, though.

"Come on, Lucky. You just have to go incorporeal and phase through the ground to get at the relics. With all of your ECM systems that you assimilated from my CFA gear, you should be able to do so without alarming the Attendants of Ylvaine!"

"Meow-Meow!"

"I don't believe you. There should be a way for you to not only phase your body, but also anything you hold. Don't forget that I once used this ability myself. I might not be able to replicate it anymore, but I'm pretty sure that I managed to phase all of my gear along with my body!"

"Meeeeooow."

"So you are capable of phasing other stuff along with you. It just drains a lot of energy."

"Meow."

"It's just energy. I can make it up to you anytime! In fact, you still owe me a debt! Did you think I forgot that you ate my CFA shuttle, armor and comm without permission?"

"Meow!!!"

"What does my mom has to do with it? Just because she can steal stuff from me doesn't mean you should follow her example! No more whining, Lucky. Just do as I ask!"

After feeding Lucky the relevant information, the cat resentfully turned incorporeal and disappeared from view. With all the abilities at his disposal, Ves didn't worry too much about failure.

It would be a different story if Ves wanted to obtain a more important relic, but that was for later.

While Lucky went off on his mission, Ves sat down on a couch and began to consider the hero mech he wanted to design.

"I should form a basic mech concept and vision first."

What kind of mech appealed to the Ylvainans?

The Ylvainans didn't exhibit a strong preference towards specific mech configurations. They paid a lot more attention to how much a mech expressed their faith. Lengthy periods of peace interspersed with sporadic battles against pirates, criminals and extremists tended to bias them towards peak performance mechs with low endurance.

"This bias towards optimal performances in short skirmishes is one of the reasons why they haven't fared well against the Star Faith Collective." He recalled.

The Protectors of the Faith always fared well in battles against poorly-equipped pirates and other scum. However, against a large military mech force, the Ylvainan mechs entered the battle with the wrong configuration!

The Star Worshippers fielded tougher, more expensive mechs that wouldn't collapse from a couple of blows. They studied their opponents well and knew that they merely had to endure the initial offensive and wait for the Protectors of the Faith to run out of steam.

Once the Ylvainan mechs began to run low on energy, that was when the Star Worshippers initiated their counter-attack!

Not every battle proceeded in this fashion. The Protectors of the Faith had already begun to replace some of their mechs with ones that fared much better in longer battles. Yet this was just one of several weaknesses the Star Worshippers exploited.

"The difference in martial tradition is too huge. Many Ylvainan mech regiments have adopted mech doctrines that have never been tested in actual battle!"

The Ylvaine Protectorate never fought any battles against their neighbors before. This was both a blessing and a curse. The long period of peace allowed them to develop their planets and star systems without depending on foreign trade.

Nonetheless, just like the Reinaldans, the Ylvainans had become overly complacent. The Protectors of the Faith may look impressive, but their bark was stronger than their bite. Their actual combat strength was significantly less than their numbers suggested!

The forward-thinking reformers recognized this inadequacy. They realized that their domestic mech industry was not up to par with the regional standard anymore. They lost faith in their own mech designers.

Ves had been tasked with designing a ceremonial bodyguard mech. Different from a military mech, such machines needed to be able to respond quickly and fiercely to fend off surprise attacks.

"Bodyguard mechs don't require a lot of endurance. They only have to last long enough to escort their charges to safety or stall the attackers long enough for reinforcements to arrive."

A complicated feeling arose within his heart when he thought about his current client. Calabast trusted him to design a hero mech that protected her life.

For a moment, he was tempted to fudge his design and incorporate a hidden weak point, but he quickly stomped out this impulse.

His pride as a mech designer wouldn't allow him to violate his duty! Whatever he thought about Calabast, she was his client now, and as a mech designer it was his job to accommodate her demands to the best of his ability!

Ves had been rather lax with his responsibilities a few times, and he always paid a price for his transgressions. Now that he advanced to Journeyman, he suspected that it became more important than ever to stick to his principles!

He turned his attention back to his hero mech. Considering its mission profile, Ves determined that the mech needed to last a long time on standby but be able to deliver a lot of impact when needed.

After a bit of brainstorming, he narrowed down his mech concept.

First, it had to be a landbound mech. Ves already ruled out designing an aerial mech because a hero mech was already complicated enough. Adding flight capabilities to his design would only add more bloat while forcing him to compromise on many aspects.

The added mobility simply didn't make up for the sacrifices he needed to make in his design.

"Hero mechs normally don't place too much emphasis on mobility." Ves muttered.

In general, the mech industry classified a hero mech as an offensive mech design. Much of the focus on their design lay in their offensive capacity. They only came equipped with enough mobility and armor to strengthen their versatile offensive power.

Therefore, settling for a landbound mech was sufficient because the mech would be able to employ its rifle to any threats that remained out of reach.

As for the weapon loadout of the mech, Ves opted to go for a sword and ballistic rifle.

A sword was the standard one-handed weapon of a hero mech. The elite mech pilots that Calabast had acquired all piloted hero mechs armed with swords during their simulation battles, so he didn't intend to mess them up by foisting them with a weapon they hadn't practiced before.

He intended to solicit some feedback from Ketis regarding his hero mech's sword. Even though she was far behind him in many aspects, her specialty centered around swords and sharpness.

For the ranged option of his hero mech, Ves settled on a ballistic rifle instead of a laser rifle. While he possessed a lot of expertise in designing mechs armed with laser weapons, a bodyguard mech required more immediate firepower.

"Laser weapons can deal a lot more damage in long, drawn-out battles. The only problem is that bodyguard mechs don't have the time to wear down their enemies at their own pace."

Ballistic rifles may not be as sophisticated as laser weapons, but their firepower and dependability was undeniable. The rounds they fired could pack a variety of explosive or penetrating effects.

Most mechs armed with ballistic rifles merely fired standard explosive shells that packed a decent explosive and kinetic punch for their cost.

However, as long as Calabast invested more money on ammunition, she could easily supply her bodyguard mechs with more premium exotic-enriched rounds.

This allowed his hero mech to possess enough firepower to take out their opponents faster!

The major downside to ballistic rifles was that a mech could only carry so much ammunition. Once the hero mech ran out of magazines, its ballistic rifle was as useful as a fragile club.

Still, it wasn't as if his hero mech would fight an intensive battle for several hours straight. If Calabast had any sense, then she would stick to areas that were close to friendly reinforcements.

It only took around fifteen minutes for the Protectors of the Faith stationed elsewhere to respond to the recent terrorist attack. Providing his hero mechs with enough ammunition to last half an hour should be sufficient for their purpose.

"If a battle is being drawn out for whatever reason, the mech pilots can just fire less in order to conserve their ammunition."

A basic picture of his hero mech emerged. While he hadn't defined its appearance as of yet, its vague shape suggested a high-impact mech that defended its charge by overwhelming its opponents with a ferocious offensive!

Combining powerful shells with a strong sword arm, his hero mech was squarely designed to fight fire with fire!

While his hero mech design excelled in offensive power, their ability to defend was a lot more modest. Aside from their armor, they didn't possess any other defensive solutions.

"Other bodyguard mechs can take over this duty."

Rather than attempting to make his hero mech fulfill both an offensive and defensive role, Ves decided to focus entirely on the former while leaving the latter to other mechs. He already knew that Calabast's bodyguard detail consisted of many defensive knight mechs.

After determining this basic configuration, Ves wondered whether he should add something extra to his mech concept.

He shook his head. "I shouldn't. For a hero mech, two weapon systems is enough. Adding anything else will only weaken the core performance metrics of my design."

He wasn't working with Terran high technology this time where every component came in very compact shapes. He needed to ration the internal volume of his mech design carefully. Employing two weapon systems on a single design took up so much space that Ves didn't expect any room for other gimmicks.

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