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 "The perfect vessel, huh? I apologise for asking this, but how can a mech ever be described as perfect? Mechs are constantly getting better."

"The perfect mech and perfect vessel are two different concepts. A vessel is merely a container that accommodates something. I believe that the mech that best fits a mech pilot at present can be called the perfect vessel!" Gloriana proudly replied.

"So you are pursuing the greatest fit between mechs and mech pilots?"

"Indeed, Ves. Theories have been developed about increasing the compatibility between the two by defining a specific shape and other parameters of a mech so that they are highly unified!"

"Does this mean that you don't design any mechs for the market?"

"I do not." Gloriana firmly shook her head. "I have eschewed designing any mechs meant for mass-production. I have no objections to their existence and their purpose but they are designed to fit decently with a large variety of mech pilots. I cannot stand the compromises that mech designers are compelled to make. I would much rather study mech pilots closely and develop a mech that possesses the perfect form for them to express their current and future level of skill!"

Ves was very impressed by her peculiar but bold design philosophy. As part of a Class I design philosophy, her design principles certainly tried to accomplish more than just focusing on a single aspect. Just the confidence she exuded when saying the word 'perfect' already underscored how strongly she believed in her notion!

Mech designers did not use this word lightly! For one to incorporate it into their very design philosophy said a lot about her conviction!

Although Ves privately thought that Gloriana was making it much harder for herself to advance to Master, he also admired her boldness in setting such an impossible goal.

A mech designer should be bold!

"So how do you apply your design philosophy in practice, Gloriana?"

"As I've stated earlier, I exclusively design custom mechs since the very start of my career. While it doesn't earn as much money as designing a regular commercial mech, I feel very fulfilled by designing a mech that is very suitable to a specific mech pilot."

"That must be rather exhausting work." Ves commented. "Your works don't have much impact, especially at first. What if the mech pilot crashes your mech into pieces during their first battle with their new machine?"

"I only claim to design the perfect vessel. Whether the mech pilots are competent enough to use my mechs to their fullest is their concern, not mine." Gloriana nonchalantly shrugged with her slender shoulders.

"How many mech pilots are using your mechs currently?"

"I have not kept track, exactly, but it is around a dozen at most."

That caused Ves to be very astounded. He always believed that mech designers needed to design mechs that needed to leave their mark on society to advance to Journeyman. For Gloriana to achieve this by producing only twelve mechs meant that some of her designs must be very impactful despite only being made once!

"I am very impressed by how you've managed to advance so quickly with such an ambitious design philosophy."

Gloriana kept smiling at Ves. "Too many mech pilots are sent into battle with mechs that don't fit their skills and preferences. Don't you think that's sad? There is a lot of missed potential there. Modern production methods allow us to tailor every mech to a specific mech pilot without too much added burden. Yet in the pursuit of maximum cost efficiency, we would rather reproduce the exact same rigid mech design over and over! It is as absurd as producing the exact same size of shoe for every human in the galaxy!"

"That's a very compelling argument, I admit." Ves responded, already feeling more and more besmitten by her classy voice and her charming expression. "Still, economic realities strongly encourage us to resort to mass market mechs. There aren't enough mech designers to cater to the needs of every mech pilot."

Gloriana smirked. "That's not entirely true. There are many Novices and Apprentices who are doing poorly. If they would stop designing something for the market and instead put their services at the disposal to a small number of mech pilots, I am certain they would be able to satisfy at least some customers rather than none."

"While there are a lot of low-ranking mech designers, not that many customers will want to enlist the services of someone bad."

"True. Nothing can be done about it. Mech designers can't force mech pilots to use their products." Gloriana sighed. "You don't have to be afraid of my disapproval. While it's a shame that many mech pilots are using standardized machines, it's an unfortunate reality. I just want to make life better for those who are willing to invest in the best custom mech."

Both of them started to become engrossed in discussing their professional principles. Ves was glad that she didn't dislike him for designing mass market mechs despite her personal focus on custom mechs. He would hate to spoil their relationship due to such a difference.

"I haven't designed many custom mechs, but it is definitely something that I will dip into occasionally." Ves stated. "According to Callisto, our design philosophies ought to be compatible with each other. Do you think that we could work together?"

"You tell me." Gloriana said. "Personally, I am hopeful. I have been searching for a suitable partner for a long time. Not anyone will do. The vast majority of mech designers specialize in improving or enhancing a single aspect. Some want to design the toughest mechs. Others want to design the best rifleman mechs. To be honest, their design philosophies do not add very much to mine."

"Why do you think that is so?"

"I'm quite competent in my technical design ability. Due to the nature of my design philosophy, I've developed a very solid foundation. I'm an all-rounder in terms of knowledge. While the help of other mech designers can add to my mech design, their roles are nonetheless marginal. Sometimes they even interfere with what I think the perfect vessel should be shaped."

"It must be difficult to find a mech designer to collaborate with, then. Class I design philosophies are quite ambitious in trying to cover everything by themselves."

"It is impossible for mech designers like us to achieve perfection in every aspect." Gloriana shook her head. "But as you said, we try. That does not mean we discount the value that others can bring to our works. More esoteric design philosophies such as yours improve aspects that we've never even heard about. I think your focus on metaphysical man-machine symbiosis is just one such example."

Ves was slightly optimistic as well. So far, it sounded as if Gloriana only focused on the physical form of a mech. He already knew that his design philosophy was compatible with almost any other design philosophy, and this should be no different.

"I'm looking forward to what kind of mech we can design if we pool each other's strength." He cautiously remarked.

That was a little bit daring for him to say, but fortunately Gloriana kept smiling. "I look forward to that as well. Both of our design philosophies try to achieve the same goal via different means. They are practically made for each other!"

"Meow."

"Miaow.."

"Meow meow!"

"Miaow miaow."

Though their design philosophies appear to be in perfect harmony, the same couldn't be said about their pets. Both cats seemed to disdain the other. Lucky even dropped down from the table to approach Clixie in an aggressive fashion!

"Lucky! Don't harm Gloriana's companion!" Ves warned.

"Clixie will be fine. She's a tough kitty."

"Ah, Lucky is not a harmless mechanical cat. He can be quite lethal if threatened. I just want to make sure he doesn't bring out his deadly arsenal."

"Interesting."

The two shared a brief moment of silence as they stared at the antics of their cats.

Both Ves and Gloriana grew more comfortable in each other's presence.

Suddenly, Gloriana spoke up again. "What do you think of me so far?"

"You're very beautiful."

"All women are beautiful." She coyly smiled. "Especially Journeymen. With how much money we earn, we spend a fortune on refining our appearances. Surely you must know that, Ves."

"Everything is artificial if you look into something deep enough. Why quibble over these inconsequential matters? Perhaps a better way to describe it is that I appreciate your aesthetic standards. You're as beautiful as a mastercrafted mech!"

Gloriana giggled. Her voice rang like melodious bells. "What an odd compliment. I like it! You don't look too bad yourself, though I bet that the makeup and fashion help you've received played a large part in that. Not that we should quibble over that, right?"

"Right."

"Nevertheless, you are still different from every other male mech designer I've met. We only know each other for less than an hour and I feel like we are already close. Don't you think so?"

"I agree." Ves happily replied. "I enjoy your company. I did not think I would meet a mech designer as lovely as you. The only way our meeting could be more perfect is if our cats could get along with each other!"

"Oh, you charmer!" She giggled.

"I aim to please."

Once she stopped giggling, Gloriana addressed him again. "To be honest, I was not entirely forthcoming with you earlier. I wanted to see whether you approve of my design philosophy and if we could get along."

"Have I met your expectations?"

The woman directed an intrigued smile at him. "Would I look as happy if you didn't? I'm very content with you so far. The thing is that while I've withheld some information, so have you. I know you haven't revealed the full extent of your design philosophy."

Ves furrowed his brows. How did she know? "My design philosophy is very difficult to describe, but I"ve earnestly tried to explain the basic gist of what I'm trying to achieve."

For the first time since they met, Gloriana dropped her smile in favor of a reproachful expression. "That is not what Irene has said and shown. I've pulled some strings in order to access the information that Irene has obtained about you. Let me show you."

Gloriana raised her smooth and slender wrist and activated her comm. Once the interface came to life, she browsed the menus until her comm projected a recording.

Ves immediately recognized the footage.

"...I believe that there is much more to improve! It is an attribute that is intricately tied to the mech pilots of the mechs!"

"And that is?"

"Divinity!"

"...Divinity?" The professor questioned.

"Yes! Divinity! Godhood!" Ves raved. "It wasn't until..."

"...Don't you see, professor? Mechs are capable of coming alive because they receive the worship of their mech pilots! This is the secret to Ylvainan transcendence!..."

"...My design philosophy believes that as long as mechs are designed in a certain fashion, they can capture the worship of the mech pilots and come alive under their control as gods!"

"...Instead, I'll become known as a designer of gods! My creations may look like machines, but hidden inside is beating the metaphysical hearts of gods! This is my ultimate aspiration! This is the future of mech design! Countless people will worship my new gods! In exchange, my gods will fight on behalf of their worshippers! No ordinary mech will be able to withstand the might of my gods! Not even god pilots will be able to withstand the flood of mass-produced gods!..."

An awkward silence ensued.

Ves felt so embarrassed that he wanted to do nothing more than to find a hole to burrow into! How could Gloriana obtain this footage! She must probably think he was crazy!

"It is a pity..." Gloriana disapprovingly shook her head. "You are great company, and our design philosophies seem to match so well at first, yet..."

Uh oh.

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