Once his excitement for the discovery of the F-stone faded, he began to address a priority that he had long been waiting to tackle.
\"The Devil Tiger yearns to be born!\"
Ves already finalized the design shortly before he arrived in Cinach. Not only did he impart it with a very lively if rebellious design spirit, but he also collected all of the requisite materials.
The Battle Criers even received the shipment of pure ASMAS on his behalf. Right now, the supply ships of the Kinner mercenary corps stored all of the materials in their cargo holds.
Ves summoned both Nitaa and Commander Cinnabar for a meeting.
\"Nitaa, have you secured a suitable workshop where I can fabricate my mech in secret?\"
His bodyguard nodded. \"I've anonymously approached an underground syndicate that's in control of an industrial district in a medium-sized city. They've agreed to let us use a well-equipped but abandoned mech workshop in exchange for a hefty fee. They demand half of the payment up-front.\"
The tall woman handed over a data pad to Ves where he studied the layout and the equipment of the workshop.
Though the tools and equipment looked a bit aged, they were well-maintained. That was better than he expected out of an illicit workshop.
\"I'm okay with it. Go ahead and confirm the agreement. Take care of the up-front payment as well.\"
\"Will do, sir. We're free to enter the workshop as soon as the syndicate confirms they've received the money.\"
\"Good. I want this done quickly. Commander Cinnabar, please coordinate with Crindon about the transfer of materials down to the workshop. I don't want to leave any traces, understood?\"
Both of them nodded. While they had no idea what Ves was up to, they were Kinners. It wasn't in their nature to question their employers too much.
\"We'll have to shuffle the materials around for a while if we want to obscure their providence, sir. To be safe, we should also transfer its contents to different cargo containers and dispose of the empty ones.\"
\"Take care of it. I trust that you'll ensure we won't leave any loopholes behind for investigators to trace my activities to me. Do you need more time or resources to complete these arrangements?\"
Nitaa looked confident. \"It won't take more than a day. If any complications arise, I'll inform you as soon as possible.\"
\"Sounds good. Don't hesitate to ask for advice from Crindon if necessary.\"
Having a diverse staff on hand provided him with a lot more conveniences than before. Ordinarily, Ves would have contacted a black market organization himself to make all of these arrangements, but now that he expanded his staff, why not delegate these tedious tasks to his underlings?
While assigning Crindon to this task would have been better, his security expert was still preoccupied with supervising the overhaul of the Barracuda.
In any case, Nitaa was not a simple bodyguard. While she failed to perform well enough to be admitted into the Order of Fl'xix, she still acquired many of their skills. The Kinner order did more than guarding people. Spying, investigating and interacting with underground organizations also fell within their competences.
In short, Ves regarded Nitaa as a budget spy. The only major deficiency she suffered from was that she didn't know how to hack. The most she could do was utilize an automatic hacking tool or program.
Nitaa and Commander Cinnabar immediately started rolling the ball. Taking care to hide their identities with each step of the way, they confirmed their agreement with the syndicate who owned the mech workshop before starting to transfer their cargo down to the surface of Cinach XII.
While Cinach VI provided a much better infrastructure for the production of mechs than Cinach XII, Ves did not wish to bother with the hassle of moving back to the sixth planet from the local sun.
Besides, Cinach XII possessed its own advantages. The presence of the branch of the Peacekeepers along with extensive heavy industries meant that a lot of cargo got shifted around.
It was easy enough to insert a few unremarkable cargo containers in the enormous flow of traffic and shuffle them from warehouse to warehouse.
Though the logistical operation kept Nitaa and the Battle Criers very busy, at the end of the day all of the cargo containers safely arrived at the workshop through an underground entrance.
Ves also arrived at the mech workshop through shifty means. He secretly departed from his hotel with the use of his Stealth Augment and under disguise.
He had to leave Gavin behind along with a member of the Battle Criers who acted as a decoy by wearing the Pride of Dusk. While the deception was far from foolproof, it was good enough to confuse most casual inspections.
In the end, Ves, Lucky and Nitaa arrived at the mech workshop through the same underground tunnels they used to deliver the cargo containers.
As Ves stepped foot in the mech workshop, he briefly inspected all of the equipment and became satisfied with what he saw.
\"Alright, Lucky. Go snoop around and see if the syndicate we've hired the workshop from have left behind any bugs.\"
Ves sighed. \"Okay, okay!\"
He put his hand in the pocket of his obscuring high coat and withdrew a small mineral chunk. He threw it over Lucky's head who immediately jumped up to snap the exotic with his maw!
Having received his prize, Lucky happily floated away with his tail swishing in happiness.
\"You too, Nitaa. Please sweep the mech workshop to make sure there aren't any traps lying around.\"
You could never be too sure when dealing with these underground organizations. While Lucky and Nitaa thoroughly inspected every corner of the facility, Ves approached the equipment and started inspecting their software and hardware.
If the syndicate wanted to keep an eye on what went on in the mech workshop, they wouldn't do something as crude as placing hidden bugs and sensors all over the place.
They'd bug the fabrication machines instead!
While the 3D printer, assembly system and all the other equipment seemed in order at first glance, Ves was very familiar with how they worked. If he wanted to bug the machines, he could think up a million different ways on how it could be done!
With his paranoid tendencies, Ves did not hesitate to waste half a day inspecting all of the machines in person.
He cracked open the 3D printer and scanned every individual component inside.
He utilized an automated hacking software to access the root programming of each machine in order to find any discrepancies.
He activated the machines and used some spare materials to test and witness their performance. This proved to be a prudent precaution because he found that some of the subcomponents had become misaligned due to extensive use.
To be honest, the misalignment was not a big deal, but it annoyed him to hell when he thought about leaving them alone. After he diverted his time, he continued to delve in the guts of the production equipment.
\"Ahah! Gotcha! I knew they wouldn't be able to resist!\"
While the 3D printer ostensibly appeared proper, in truth Ves found an extremely tiny component hidden deep within the enormous machine.
The component acted as a secret logger! While the 3D printer's regular logging software and components had already been removed, this tiny, non-standard part essentially replicated some of their functioning in secret!
Anyone who retrieved the data the tiny component gathered would be able to reconstruct what Ves had produced with the machine!
Ves removed and crushed the tiny component as soon as possible. Having found solid proof that the local syndicate lied to him, he resumed his search with much more diligence than before.
He found no more bugs.
\"Did I catch them all, or did I miss some?\" He wondered.
He wasn't sure, but he wouldn't be able to find anything else even if he searched again. As much as he wanted to indulge in his paranoia and conduct another search, he already wasted enough time.
\"It's about time for me to start.\" He declared.
He began the long preparation of taking out the materials. He did not use the mech workshop's own lifter bots to move all of the heavy goods but instead used the ones he bought earlier in the day. He already inspected them thoroughly and planned to destroy them afterwards to minimize the risk of exposure.
\"I can never be too sure!\"
He felt as if he was back to fabricating a prohibited gamma laser rifle. While his Devil Tiger was not strictly as egregious as a weapon of mass destruction, its existence would most definitely lead to a lot of controversy!
Still.. the risks he was toying with exciting him. The thought of finally bringing a dangerous mech like the Devil Tiger into existence quickly stoked his passion.
\"It's been long enough! I can't hold back any longer!\"
Ves eagerly dove into the fabrication process. First, he took out the pure ASMAS that formed the inner core of his mech.
Stored in a huge barrel, the pure ASMAS that Gloriana procured for him looked no different from a grey, mercury-like soup at first glance.
Preparing it was the simplest step of all. Ves merely had to pass on the programming and instructions he already composed beforehand.
In fact, the fabrication process this time proceeded very differently than normal. The high degree of smart metal utilized in the mech meant that his Devil Tiger was essentially capable of constructing itself!
Once he inspected the pure ASMAS and verified that it had all implemented their new programming, he began to place several piles of materials surrounding the alien-like mass of shifting metals.
After sending a few more instructions, the pure ASMAS began to engulf some of the metal and alloy bars. An uncountable amount of nanomachines quickly began to break apart the bars into tiny particles.
A second pool of shifting, morphing metal began to form. This was the substitute ASMAS made of lesser materials. As more than half of the Devil Tiger consisted of substitute ASMAS, its production took a lot of time, all the while the pure ASMAS demanded a constant supply of energy to power its nanofabrication activities.
Ves witnessed the slow process of forming the initial mass of substitute ASMAS with a mixed expression.
He had the feeling he was looking at a potential future direction of mech production. If smart metal technology ever matured to the point where they could compete with conventionally-produced mechs, then it may become more in vogue, thereby making huge mech manufacturing complexes redundant!
\"Well, that's unlikely. Materialization technology is already making some strides, so that will probably achieve universality first.\"
He quickly centered his mind and rid himself of all distractions. This was a period where he had to devote his utmost into fabricating the Devil Tiger. Even though the use of ASMAS took a lot of work on his hands, there were plenty of parts that still had to be built conventionally.
With a focused mind, he began to activate the 3D printer and other production equipment and proceeded to churn out various parts. The power reactor, the mech engine, the cockpit, portions of the internal frame as well as other miscellaneous components quickly flew out of the production machines.
His passion and enthusiasm for his project caused him to enter into a strange state of tranquility. While he didn't burn with as much passion as he did when he fabricated the Transcendent Messengers, he nonetheless believed he was doing a better job than before.
The parts of the Devil Tiger slowly accumulated. Though Ves had not put them all together yet, he already sensed the potency hidden within.
With the exceptional amount of care and attention Ves directed to his work, practically everything went flawlessly. Even as Ves triple-checked the freshly-fabricated parts by subjecting them to scans, he hardly found any discrepancies!
His belief in his Devil Tiger grew. With such exceptionally flawless parts, Ves wanted to do everything possible to turn his latest mech into something exceptional!
His pride as a craftsman demanded no less!