Once Ves completed the Devil Tiger and finished celebrating the creation of his first masterwork mech, he moved out of the rented workshop.
He loaded the precious new masterwork mech into a large, specialized mech container laced with a scanner-dampening layer. A rented transport operated by the Battle Criers transported the container out of the premises through an underground tunnel network before being passed to a series of other rented transports.
Eventually, the transport deposited the container in a small, empty warehouse rented for the purpose. Bringing the container from the surface of Cinach XII was a bit troublesome, as the local authorities inspected every piece of cargo.
They could still try to smuggle out the container, but they needed some assistance from one of the local underground organizations. Nitaa already booked a slot aboard a discreet large transport that mostly carried legitimate cargo, but they had to wait a few days before they got their turn.
\"How troublesome.\" Ves grumbled.
\"We can't help it, sir.\" She shrugged. \"As anonymous outsiders, we've been placed on the back of the waiting list. The only way to get priority is if you flash your identity to the smugglers.\"
\"That would defeat the point of all of this subterfuge.\"
He would rather wait than leaving any trail behind. Masterwork mech or not, designing and fabricating an illegal mech would still land him in big trouble with the MTA!
\"Stupid hypocrites.\" He muttered. \"They persecute anyone who crosses the line while they're happily allowed to get away with their murky experiments.\"
The difference between the two was that he was just a solitary mech designer while the MTA possessed the power to dictate and enforce its rules whenever they wished!
Who wouldn't want to cut themselves some slack if they could get away with it? The MTA was no different from any other selfish organization in that regard!
After spending half a day travelling back and forth in disguise, Ves, Lucky and Nitaa finally sneaked their way back into the hotel.
They returned to safety!
Ves let down his guard and relaxed. Once the decoy who pretended to be him shed the Pride of Dusk and put the articles back in a closet, the hotel room had turned back into normal.
\"Did you succeed?\" Gavin asked.
\"Beyond my wildest dreams, Benny. As long as we can send my package from Cinach XII to Cinach VIII, I can hopefully get it in the right hands.\"
\"So we're heading to Cinach VIII next?\"
\"Yup. That will be our final stop before we depart the star system. Hopefully the overhauls to the Barracuda is complete by the time we are done.\"
After discussing some more routine arrangements, Ves finally dismissed his assistant. With only Nitaa and Lucky left in the bedroom, he made sure that enough jamming was in place before materializing his System comm.
Fabricating a masterwork mech was a massive accomplishment. Ves believed the System would definitely have something to say about his latest achievement!
Once he activated its interface, he received a small number of irrelevant messages. He only paid attention to those related to the Devil Tiger.
[Design Evaluation: Devil Tiger TG-Z]
Model name: Devil Tiger TG-Z
Original Manufacturer: Ves Larkinson
Weight Classification: Medium
Recommended Role: Offensive Tiger Mech
Carrying Capacity: E
Energy Efficiency: C
Cost efficiency: F
Project involvement: 100%
Original component composition: 9%
Overall evaluation: The Devil Tiger is a tiger mech suited for long term skirmishing and survival. Its distinctive, augmented ASMAS grants the Devil Tiger the capacity to repair and upgrade its mech frame without outside assistance. Combined with its excellent mobility and armor durability, the Devil Tiger possesses the potential for infinite growth and strengthening. The only complicating factor is its volatile design spirit, who can exert considerable influence in aiding or hindering its mech pilot. The Devil Tiger's X-Factor is tied to Zeigra, the Mech Cruncher, a former genetic product and Crown Cat native to Felixia I.
[You have received 1000 Design Points for completing an original design that has no other equivalent.]
[You have received 50,000 Design Points for designing a mech with a high presence of X-Factor.]
Ves immediately noted that the grades swung very wildly.
\"How did you come up with these grades?\" Ves puzzlingly asked. \"What are the measuring standards, and how relative are the grades to comparable mech designs?\"
Of course, the System didn't deign to answer this question.
Though Ves personally disagreed with some of the grades, he had to admit that the Devil Tiger was not a well-rounded mech. It lacked both flight and ranged weapon capabilities, its energy efficiency was pretty decent until it started to consume and process new materials, it couldn't carry any significant amounts of cargo, and so on.
This meant that while Ves designed the mech to operate by itself in the field if need be, the Devil Tiger truly excelled if a mech commander built a team of assisting mechs around its use.
\"If its users have any sense, they'll utilize my Devil Tiger as a flanking mech!\"
This was asking a bit much. Ves did not have much faith in the competence of pirates to be able to utilize his Devil Tiger with military-style tactics and coordination.
\"Those stupid degenerates will probably put the Devil Tiger at the head of their swarm of mechs!\"
It was a good thing that Ves added the Sin of Altruism to the sole physical copy of its design. The considerable upgrade to the armor of the mech essentially provided it with an added buffer against the many errors their pilots likely made over the course of its use.
Having spent a considerable amount of time in the frontier, Ves fully witnessed the low standards of the average pirates. More elite pirate outfits such as the Swordmaidens and the pirate alliances partially broke the mold, but even they fell short compared to the well-organized military mech regiments.
He turned to one of the most important grades of his mech design.
\"So the X-Factor has reached an A. I never expected to reach this height again so soon!\"
His first mech design with a solid A-grade X-Factor was the Aurora Titan. Back then, Ves predicted that it might take many years before he could design a mech of comparable strength in this area.
The Aurora Titan only got this far because of Qilanxo's donation of a precious spiritual fragment!
There was no way he could replicate this feat! Just finding a powerful exobeast with the spirituality equivalent to an ace pilot or a centuries-old Sacred God was nearly impossible! Trying to negotiate a spiritual fragment out of them was unthinkable!
As for trying to steal a fragment from them, Ves could think of better ways to commit suicide!
Therefore, Ves did not actually expect that he managed to make it this far just by utilizing a mostly-whole spiritual entity as his Devil Tiger's design spirit!
\"In the end, there's a considerable gulf in strength between a fragment and a complete entity!\"
The System essentially confirmed to him that using an expert pilot-level spiritual entity brought the same degree of benefits as an ace-level spiritual fragment.
Considering the scarcity and immense difficulty of securing the latter, Ves vastly preferred the former! Going on a Crown Hunt may have been rather perilous to Ves, but at least he had a realistic chance of success!
In fact, now that he confirmed the viability of harvesting usable spiritual entities from exobeasts who weren't as rare and exceptional as Sacred Gods, Ves even began to consider farming them.
\"Why should I go out and risk my life on an arduous Crown Hunt when I can just buy a huge cat from the company who develops and sells their species?\"
House Laterna's research institutions cooked up a lot of experimental huge cats and released them into the Asco Continent to record their performance. However, facilitating huge game hunting was not their principal source of business.
Instead, they derived a greater portion of their income from selling the best-performing huge cats to customers!
Though the occurrence of spiritual potential in the huge cats was minute, as long as Ves made a careful selection, he could potentially obtain a specimen as strong as Zeigra as long as he bought a batch of likely candidates!
\"This is how a mech designer ought to handle this issue! To us, any problem can be solved as long as we throw enough money at it! There's no need for us to do all of the heavy lifting ourselves!\"
In hindsight, he shouldn't have participated in the Crown Hunt to begin with! Though he didn't regret accepting Lady Miralix's offer since the challenges he faced stimulated him into developing several new spiritual techniques, he couldn't keep wasting his time on needlessly-dangerous hunts.
He had better things to do with his time!
Since Ves did not suffer from any money problems lately, he could easily afford to go for the most expensive but convenient option.
\"House Laterna isn't the only organization who develops genetic products. There's a huge market for powerful beasts!\"
The idea had a lot of merit. As long as he set up a large-scale private preserve on some rural planet he could collect as many weird exobeasts and genetic products as he wanted!
Other people would probably dismiss this new preoccupation as yet another weird quirk of his, which was completely fine to Ves. As long as a handful of his collected beasts possessed spirituality, then it was more than worth it as each of them made another mech design with an A-grade X-Factor possible!
The entire arrangement introduced some much-needed structure, consistency and efficiency in his efforts to obtain powerful spiritual fragments and entities He would no longer have to get his hands dirty by stealing highly-valued relics or hunt down a dangerous beast in person to harvest its spirituality upon its death!
\"It would be even better if I own a research institution myself!\"
Ves quickly shook his head. That was going a bit too far. The research and development of genetic products was an extremely difficult market to get into. A lot of companies who had been in the business for decades or centuries accumulated strong advantages by excelling in their specialties.
Starting a biotech research institution from scratch could get very expensive as it needed decades to ramp up to the point where it started to break even.
As a mech designer, Ves mainly wanted to focus his business activities around mechs. Trying to branch off in other sectors sounded like a good way to get distracted and slow down his career progression.
\"I'll have to form some proper plans when I get back to the Bright Republic.\" He rubbed his chin in thought. \"Considering the benefits I can accrue, it's still worth it for me to dip my toes in this sector.\"
For now, Ves wanted to move on and see what the System had to say about his masterwork mech. Once he dismissed the evaluation for his design, he finally received his anticipated announcements.
[You have personally assembled a masterwork mech based on your own Devil Tiger design!]
[Congratulations for assembling your first masterwork mech! As a mech designer, to create a masterwork mech is a grand achievement. Only mech designers and fabricators who thoroughly understand and develop a strong intuition for mechs are capable of creating mechs that holistically surpass the intent of the original design. Now that you have formed the first mech that passes this standard, your ability to produce mechs has undergone a holistic baptism that provides substantial benefits to your future works. Please work harder to replicate this feat to improve your affinity for mechs even further!]
[You have acquired Masterwork Mech Assembly I! Create more masterwork mechs to upgrade this Sub-Skill!]
[You have been awarded with one radiant lottery ticket! Create more masterwork mechs to receive more radiant lottery tickets!]
Ves immediately focused on the last announcement.
\"What the heck is a radiant lottery ticket?\"