Everyone exerted their utmost into completing their tasks.
Not everything went perfectly. Plenty of problems occured along the way.
For example, Ves had to be very creative in repurposing parts that belonged to other mech models in order to get the most intact mechs back to work.
The ramshackle nature of the three functional mechs caused him to feel pained every time he took a glimpse at them. Ves would never tolerate selling such awful machines! Gloriana would probably suffer a heart attack at the mere thought of presenting mechs in their conditions as her own works!
\"Hehe. It's a good thing that I can still tolerate imperfection.\"
Ves was no stranger to messy solutions. His time with the Vandals prepared him well for these kinds of tasks. In truth, while the difficulty of the problems he faced today was little different from those he experienced on Aeon Corona VII, his capabilities improved enormously.
As a Journeyman, his affinity with mechs had undergone a qualitative improvement. Even if he worked with mechs that he hadn't designed himself, he easily understood the essence and logic behind their designs.
Fortunately, Lady Miralix hired some excellent mech technicians with considerable amounts of certificates under their belt. Their efficiency and competence impressed him so much that he even became tempted to poach them and add them to his personal workshop crew!
\"Too bad they're Sentinels.\"
Ordinary people were highly reluctant to leave their home states, and the Sentinel Kingdom imposed a lot of bureaucratic hurdles if any Sentinel wanted to emigrate.
Aside from the complicated work the hunting team had done to the mechs, the remains of the Crown Cat presented a number of headaches as well.
Zeigra's carcass turned out to be harder and heavier than expected. Even in death, its resilient hide and bone slowed down the cutting process!
The crews working on the carcass broke or wore out a lot of cutting implements. In some cases, the workers even resorted to taking out their plasma torches in order to cut through the more resilient parts of the dead beast!
While the hide was already difficult enough to separate, the bones were even worse! The workers found it nearly impossible to cut through the neck bones of the beast so that they could fully separate the head of the Crown Cat from the rest of the carcass!
The body processors were forced to wait until the mech technicians managed to restore an axeman mech.
With great difficulty, the axeman mech took up its weapon and started to make careful chops at precise portions of the dead cat's neck bones.
Even borrowing the power of a mech did not lead to quick results. The axeman mech was far from its peak condition, and it also had to be careful not to spoil its aim. The chopping proceeded very slowly and only after a lengthy day did they succeed in separating the head.
Even so, work still proceeded without any interruptions. Everyone was riding high on morale after they achieved the most difficult portion of their hunt. All they had to do was to return to Kemila with their spoils.
During the final day where Ves and the mech technicians finally managed to get the Kinslayer back online, the Felixia Catstrikers were ready to return to their base in triumph!
The legged transports no longer carried many supplies and parts. Instead, their cargo holds housed all of the dismembered pieces of Zeigra. The Crown Cat grew into a very sizable and heavy cat when he was alive, so the transports all strained to support their own weight.
Before the hunting team took off, Lady Miralix first had to recover from her immense exertion. Strangely enough, the medical specialists still expressed some concerns about discharging her early, but the hunting team really needed her to pilot the Kinslayer on their way back.
As a custom mech, the Kinslayer was hardwired to accept only Lady Miralix. Any other pilot that attempted to pilot the tiger mech simply wouldn't be able to bring the mech online, let alone transmit any instructions to it because its systems refused to recognize the input of anyone other than its intended mech pilot!
This was a standard security measure that was very prevalent among custom mechs. After all, since its designers precisely tailored the mech to accommodate a specific individual, no one else ought to make use of these exquisite machines.
Locking the mechs to a specific mech pilot ensured that others who came into possession of them got a lot less value out of their prizes. They would have to tear apart half of its parts and fill up the void with new ones in order to solve the pervasive hardware locks embedded in so many parts!
If the hunting team wanted to enjoy the protection of the Kinslayer, then Lady Miralix's condition had to be well enough for her to pilot mechs.
As soon as she left the infirmary, she called up a succession of subordinates to get herself up to speed.
Ves met with her fairly quickly in a private compartment on one of the transports. After Ves provided his perfunctory report on the state of the functional mechs, they began to divert to other topics.
\"I have to thank you, Mr. Larkinson.\" She tiredly smiled at him. \"The Kinslayer.. has really helped me through the battle. All of the previous practice hunts I've been through has never made me feel so good in the cockpit.\"
\"That's my job. I just hope you'll spread the good word among your fellow comrades.\"
\"I'll be sure to do so. I'm very impressed with what you've done with my mech. Consider me a devoted customer to your products. I'll be sure to import some of your other products as well if I have need of them in the future!\"
Until now, the LMC basically didn't maintain any presence in the Sentinel Kingdom at all. The semi-closed economy made it fairly difficult for foreign products to enter the powerful third-rate state's lucrative mech market.
Ves hoped that his hunting achievement on one of their famed hunting grounds might result in special treatment in the future. If Lady Miralix vouched for him and spoke on his behalf, then maybe the Sentinel Kingdom might become a priority market for the LMC in a few years!
The two started to become comfortable in each other's company. As Ves sat in his seat while stroking Lucky's back, they began to go over how the Kinslayer performed in battle.
\"Zeigra hit really hard back then.\" She spoke, casting her mind back to the memories of that day. \"I'm amazed my Kinslayer endured so much damage. If I wasn't so taken in by the fight, I would have begun to harbor some doubts about the durability of my mech.\"
\"Mechs are more capable than you think. It's not just the expert mechs that are capable of miracles.\" Ves idly remarked.
\"Do you really believe that?\"
\"Oh, I do. In fact, it's a core part of my beliefs regarding mechs. Every machine can be special if you care about it, right?\"
She shrugged. \"I'm not a technically-inclined person. I'm just a mech pilot. However, even without studying all of the modifications you've made to my mech, the differences has been very stark to me. Whatever you did has completely transformed its piloting experience. I don't know if I can ever go back to piloting a regular mech after piloting such a fantastic mech in what might be the most magnificent battle of my life!\"
A lot of people started to accuse his mechs for harboring an addicting quality to them. While his critics hadn't outright accused him of going down the road of the Farund Affair due to the lack of hard evidence, a lot of potential buyers started to get in touch with those awful rumors.
From what he could tell from the reports that Calsie passed to him, the fear of getting brainwashed was quickly starting to become a major problem to the LMC! No matter how much proof his company provided to the public, a growing portion of the markets the company became involved in exhibited an increasing amount of vigilance towards its products!
When Ves witnessed Lady Miralix express so much love and devotion to her Kinslayer, he kind of felt the same way about his own work! The adoration she exhibited came across as very disturbing!
If he hadn't personally designed his own mechs, then his paranoia would have certainly warned him to stay as far away from the strange machines as possible!
Ves had a lot of work to do when he finally returned home!
For now, he was still some months away, so he turned his attention back to the present. He immediately thought of another problem on his hands.
\"If we return to Kemila with Zeigra's frozen body parts, their ownership will pass on to me, right?\"
\"Right.\" She smiled. \"I do not intend to stiff you on this matter. While I'd love to have the complete carcass, this is what you deserve.\"
\"Thank you.\" Ves smiled back. There were upsides to doing business with fans! \"I'm wondering what I can do with it, though. What do hunters ordinarily do when they return with such a valuable prize in their possession?\"
\"They can do much with a carcass. Even without a head, the body of a Crown Cat is still of considerable worth.\" She spoke. \"Even if you recycle the flesh and bones into exotics and other materials, you'll still be able to recoup some of what House Laterna had fed the beast. Don't expect to gain much, though, considering that many exotics will lose their strength when processed in such a destructive way.\"
The same occurred when someone attempted to recycle a mech wreck. No recycling operation could ever extract the full value of the materials of a mech due to the degradation of exotics when subjected to heavy processing.
\"I take it that most hunters don't do that, right?\"
\"No.\" She shook her head. \"Most hunters have different ideas in mind. The parts of a huge cat are worth more than their constituent materials. This is especially the case for a Crown Cat like Zeigra!\"
\"So what kind of options do you suggest?\"
\"It depends on you, Mr. Larkinson. Some hunters see a lot of value in eating the flesh of a formidable huge cat. While eating their flesh can't be done without subjecting them to treatment in order to extract the toxic materials out of their tissue, if you want to impress a noble or high official, then serving them Zeigra steak is an extravagant way to do it! You've got more than enough meat to hold a barbecue if you wish!\"
The suggestion didn't appeal to him. \"No thanks. I'm not one for fancy eating.\"
\"Another popular option is to turn your spoils into a trophy. There are very professional taxidermy companies in Kemila that would love to receive Zeigra's body parts. According to your wishes, they can treat the parts and piece them back together into a lifelike showpiece that you can use to impress your guests.\"
This sounded a bit more interesting.
\"Is that proper if I don't have the head?\"
\"It's not a big deal if you attach an imitation head to a mounted body. The very best and most authentic method is to partially recreate the outer tissue with cloned flesh. This can get very expensive, but you absolutely won't be disappointed with the results!\"
Ves didn't think he'd be interested in building up his own collection of hunting trophies, but now that the opportunity presented itself, he slowly came around to the idea.
Having encountered several incidents where his lack of fame, reputation and prestige posed a hindrance to his personal and business interests, he truly had to do something to tackle this shortcoming.
Bringing home an impressive mounted body of a formidable Crown Cat sounded like just the thing to impress the snobs!