[Upgrade Mission - Mechanics]
Mission: Design and Fabricate a bestial mech
Prerequisites: [Mechanics - Journeyman]
Humanoid mechs are the predominant standard shape of mechs. Yet they are not the only option available. Humanoid mechs carry distinct strengths and weaknesses. Certain roles are best filled by bestial mechs which adopt shapes that do not conform to the human body.
Study the use and application of bestial mechs without aid and design a classical bestial mech that meets the Mech Designer System's standards. Then fabricate it and sell it to a worthy customer.
[Mechanics - Senior]
[Upgrade Mission - Metallurgy]
Mission: Design and Fabricate a smart metal mech
Prerequisites: [Mechanics - Metallurgy]
Mechs are ordinarily plated by fixed, inflexible alloys. This is not the only solution available. Smart metals have been developed that consists of nanomachines or other micro-level substances that can add a certain degree of flexibility to the usage of a mech.
Study the use and applications of smart metal without aid and employ them into a viable mech design that meets the Mech Designer System's standards. Then fabricate it and sell it to a worthy customer.
[Metallurgy - Senior]
"Wow. This is.. well, not easy, but quite doable!"
Ves felt a small amount of relief that the System did not put him in a difficult spot this time. When he wanted to upgrade his Physics Skill to Senior-level, the System forced him to develop a gamma laser rifle.
He expected the System to try and screw him over by violating another major taboo or two, but it seems he finally caught a break for once.
"It wouldn't have been necessary anyway." Ves muttered.
He used to revere and respect the Big Two. No longer. The tenets of the MTA were worth as much as a spoiled nutrient pack to him. He wouldn't hesitate if the System commanded him to design a mech that turned the very ground it walked upon into a toxic sludge pool!
As Ves contemplated the nature of his two upgrade missions, he realized two important points.
First, the upgrade missions compelled him to learn more about bestial mechs and smart metal through his own efforts. He wasn't able to gain the required knowledge by acquiring the relevant Sub-Skills in the Skill Tree.
"With my learning speed, it won't take much effort for me to get up to speed." He muttered.
Second, instead of designing two separate mechs to fulfill each mission in sequence, why not try to fulfill both of their demands with just a single mech?
"There's nothing there that says I can't hit two birds with one stone."
A bestial mech with an exterior that consisted of smart metal was not too unusual. Ves could save a lot of time and effort if he opted to design such a machine.
"The sooner I upgrade my main Skills, the more confident I'll be the next time I meet Gloriana!"
This time would definitely come! With how big of a crush she developed towards him, there was no way she could accept being separated from him for so long!
"I can't let her run over me again like last time! How can I call myself a man when Gloriana thinks she should protect me? I'm not a baby!"
Lucky, who lounged in the vicinity, raised his head at Ves. "Meow."
"Pff! You're wrong! I don't have a weakness against strong women!"
"My mother, Master Olson, Calabast and Gloriana are just exceptions! The only reason I'm weak in front of them is because of other factors!"
"I DO NOT HAVE A FETISH FOR STRONG WOMEN BECAUSE MY MOTHER DIED EARLY!"
Ves firmly turned around didn't pay any further attention to the nonsense uttered by his pet.
He instead returned to work. He decided to set aside his studies on smart metals and bestial mechs until after he completed designing the third variant for the Skull Architect. He didn't want his other stalker to send out another Shadow Courier to remind him of his obligations!
His lack of coordination hampered his efforts a bit. However, it also offered a good opportunity for him to retrain his fine control over his motor functions.
He also started to flex the new Sub-Skills he acquired by eliminating some subtle flaws and suboptimal implementations in all of his variants. His variants of the Caskar Pike, the Toroz Ruby and the Jinven became a little more flawless, which should stave off some the Skull Architect's ire.
As the Barracuda was less than a week away from Leemar, Ves received a disturbing call. He was putting the finishing touches of his variant of the Jinven and did not look glad.
However, upon seeing who called him, Ves understood why his mute didn't work. "It's Gloriana again."
Should he accept or not?
"I better not."
Ves rejected the call. For good measure, he turned off his comm entirely.
Yet seconds later, a projection came to life in his stateroom. Ves might have turned off his personal comm, but the Barracuda possessed its own communication system!
The tall, life-like projection of Gloriana appeared in view. This time, she wore a trendy ensemble of smart clothing that made her look both chic and fashionable.
It was a pity that Gloriana did not look happy at the moment! Her fists were pressed against her hips and a cute pout marred her face.
"Ves Larkinson! Did you just reject my call?!"
"Nonono! I err I was just about to take a bath and turned off my comm beforehand!"
"Who would believe such a ridiculous excuse? Comms are waterproof!"
"Not mine. It's a cheaper model! I can't afford anything better!"
Gloriana shook her head in stern disappointment. "Stop making excuses. Regardless of whether you are ready or not, you better not reject my calls again. I'll punish you if you do."
Her words caused Ves to shake a little, especially at the end. Although she didn't specify her 'punishment', he figured it was best not to find out!
"I'll do my best to answer your calls." He said perfunctory.
"Great!" She bloomed into a smile. "It's so nice to see you again! I've held back from calling you for so long, but I couldn't take it any longer! I just had to hear your voice again!"
The speed in which she swung her mood disturbed him a bit. Yet Ves also felt happy for making Gloriana happy. He enjoyed seeing her smile for some reason.
"Let's have a virtual date!" She suggested, and activated a command in her own comm that caused his stateroom to fade away, only to be replaced by a scenic virtual vista.
A gorgeous expanse of alien wilderness stretched out before them. Ves and Gloriana both appeared to float above the air, giving them an uninterrupted view of various species of exobeasts living out their placid, simulated lives.
"Come sit with me!"
Ves hesitantly approached and sat next to Gloriana. The woman noticed his apprehension and frowned for a moment.
"Why are you so glum? Is the prospect of spending time with me so scary to you?"
"No!" Ves reflexively shook his head. "I just.. Aren't we moving a little bit fast?"
Obviously, Gloriana disagreed, but she didn't voice out her opinion directly. Instead, she calmed herself and adopted a caring tone.
"Where's your smooth talk, Ves? You weren't so nervous when we initially met. You called me beautiful, right?"
"Say it again."
Gloriana's eyes stared at him with so much hope and anticipation that Ves couldn't bring himself to refuse her request.
"You're beautiful." He whispered.
"See? That's not so hard, isn't it? Hihi!" She giggled with glee. "So what have you been doing lately?"
Design variants of works from a notorious criminal mech designer, but Ves couldn't say that over an insecure channel.
"Just.. studying." He lied. "I have to keep sharpening my skills. Becoming a Journeyman is not enough. There's always more to learn."
"I agree!" Gloriana nodded. "There's so much to learn, but our time is so limited. Even if I got my family to help pay for gene boost elixirs and other gene treatments, I still have to spend too much time on my studies. I have no choice if I want to keep up with the demands of my design philosophy!"
"I hear that once you become a Senior, you spend less time on studying existing knowledge and more time on performing original research."
"That's true." She confirmed. "While there's still more to learn, it's not always a good idea to let yourself be dictated by your knowledge. What you know will shape the development of your design philosophy. At a higher level, most mech designers will want to balance out their acquired knowledge with original knowledge they formulated themselves. No Master has emerged who relied entirely on knowledge learned from others to advance!"
"Oh?" Ves raised his eyebrow. He hadn't heard of this before. "How much original knowledge should they develop?"
"As much as possible, though that's clearly impossible. You need to form at least a solid foundation and a decent spread of proficiencies in order to be able to design mechs without any glaring inadequacies. You also need a broad base of knowledge in order to support and to provide context to your original insights."
In other words, it was a balancing act. Mech designers needed to develop enough ingenuity to be able to make new discoveries, but they also had to keep learning in order to apply their discoveries in actual mech designs.
"How far are you into developing your design philosophy? It hasn't been long since you became a Journeyman, right Ves?"
"I already made some decent progress while I was still an Apprentice. My design philosophy is so unusual that I had no choice but to figure out some stuff myself."
She looked very impressed at him. "As expected of the man I have my eye on! When I studied your mech designs, it's fairly notable how distinct they feel. That's not the strength a fresh Journeyman is capable of expressing. I won't let you take the lead, however! I'll work hard to stay ahead of you! What kind of woman would I be if you advanced to Senior before me? My parents would be ashamed!"
Ves didn't know what to say. Shouldn't he be the one to boast how he would advance first and lend her a hand after he became wealthier and more powerful?
"Ahem, I wouldn't mind if you advanced first, though." She smiled coyly. "Though we'll see if that happens."
Neither of them had an easy path towards becoming a Senior. Ves had to innovate all by himself while Gloriana truly had to study a very broad range of subjects in order to come closer to being able to design the perfect vessels for her clients.
The two chatted a bit longer. Ves found that Gloriana knew a lot more about the circumstances that Journeyman faced, so he gladly listened to her explanations.
"Journeymen ought to be explorers at heart." She stated. "While studying existing knowledge is still vital, they really ought to start doing their own research."
"What if some other mech designer already figured out what you wanted to develop towards?" Ves asked curiously.
"Then you'd instinctively feel it in your design philosophy. For certain reasons that I don't know, if you are researching something that others have already explored, then your design philosophy won't progress as much. Most mech designers with boring design philosophies are forced to grapple with this problem. The best way to solve it is by forking out their specialty in a direction that hasn't been explored yet by any existing mech designer."
"What about direct disciples? From what I heard, they're pretty much inheriting the design philosophies of their Masters."
"That's different." Gloriana shook her head. "The design philosophies of Masters are different. They are permanent. They have transcended from a single mech designer's exclusive preserve and can easily be shared among multiple mech designers. Direct disciples follow a very different means of progression."
All of this was very fascinating for Ves to hear. If Gloriana was right, then Ves ought to be able to tell whether another mech designer had already tread the same ground as him with regards to his specialization.