Ves once asked the System to explain its rating system. Copper, bronze, silver and gold already spoke for themselves, but the weirder names threw him for a loop.
He eventually learned that the aforementioned ratings were collectively grouped in the plainest category of ratings.
An additional category of ratings existed beyond gold and proceeded as followed:
An even greater category of ratings existed above that, but Ves was far from reaching a level of strength and capability where he could receive something so great!
At his current level, Ves already started slobbering his mouth at the thought of winning ten golden lottery tickets if he completed one of the System's insanely difficult Supply Missions!
\"I'm too much of a pauper to think that far.\" He ruefully chuckled.
Right now, Ves only possessed two objects from the System rated beyond gold.
While Lucky started off with a lower rating, his constant upgrades and assimilation of valuable exotics elevated him to the point where the System regarded him as exceptional!
Yet even Lucky still fell short against his copy of Amastendira, which received an immensely-high rating of supreme!
Ves won the Amastendira from an extremely lucky pull from a golden lottery ticket. Since the 'jackpot' of a golden lottery ticket already reached this high, how much better was the jackpot of radiant lottery ticket?
\"I'd probably be able to win something grand if I make a lucky pull!\"
In reality, Ves did not think much of his odds of striking it rich. He knew the System well enough that most of its lottery tickets only yielded minimal prizes.
This was the entire reason why he insisted upon gaining a multitude of golden lottery tickets upon completing the System's Supply Missions! Perhaps he wouldn't strike it rich with a single ticket, but when he had up to fifty chances to do so, he'd definitely win at least a handful of extremely valuable prizes!
Yet the appearance of this radiant lottery ticket suggested that Ves had another way of winning a fantastic prize.
\"I don't believe this lottery ticket will give me nothing but a consolation message if I don't get lucky! I should at least receive a prize rated as exceptional!\"
He deserved it for fabricating his first masterwork mech. As he reread the System's message, he understood its significance.
The System really loved it when he created a masterwork mech! It always urged him to become a better mech designer. The more he progressed, the more he met the System's expectations!
A grand reward such as a radiant lottery ticket essentially signaled to him that the System was not opposed to giving him another treat if he created another masterwork mech!
Ves always felt like a puppy performing tricks for his master ever since he received the System. Its latest message and reward only reinforced their ongoing transactional relationship.
The radiant lottery ticket was not only a reward, but also a bribe!
Despite his misgivings over the Systems and its motives for fattening him up, for now he needed its assistance to grow stronger. Only until he became powerful enough to hinder the Five Scrolls Compact would he be able to fulfill his long-standing goals and ambitions.
\"I shouldn't complain about receiving a radiant lottery ticket. Anything that brings me closer to achieving my goals is helpful!\"
He knew that given the circumstances, it remained immensely difficult for him to craft another masterwork mech. The stars had to align and all kinds of conditions had to be favorable in order for him to reach this height again.
Receiving the Masterwork Mech Assembly I Sub-Skill helped lower the difficulty, but it could not replace all of the personal effort and sacrifice he put into the Devil Tiger. The more he invested in the mech, the more it gained significance to his design sensibilities.
One thing about the System's message did hint at something important, though. Just like he learned, the System stated that creating a masterwork mech increased a mech designer's affinity towards mechs!
What was the exact meaning behind this phrase? Ves immediately formed a guess and began to concentrate his mind in order to inspect his own Spirituality.
He immediately discovered a change!
His muddy and mixed spiritual energy looked the same as always, but with one key difference. The attribute related to mechs had undergone a small evolution! It became stronger and more pronounced!
Other than that, his design seed had also gone through a subtle improvement. Though Ves found it hard to determine what had actually changed, he knew that whatever changed occurred improved both his design and fabrication capabilities!
While the creation of a masterwork mech mainly related to the assembly of mechs, his improved affinity for them also meant he would make less mistakes when he designed a mech.
\"It's as if my intuition for mechs has improved. That will help me out in many mech-related aspects.\"
His improved affinity affected a broad swathe of activities, from appraising mechs to modifying them. No matter what he did with mechs, he would always be a little bit better at it than someone who possessed the same Attributes and Skills as him! Masterwork Mech Assembly I was not a Sub-Skill that he could buy from the System's Skill Tree!
\"It is as if I increased my 'talent' for mech design!\"
Even now, he deeply wanted to put his improved capabilities to the test by designing a new mech!
However, he quickly shelved aside this urge. This was not the time for him to indulge in a future design.
He still had a lottery ticket to redeem!
However, he quickly paused for a moment. Right now, he wasn't alone, and the hotel room itself might not be completely secure.
\"I'll be heading to the bathroom for a moment.\"
Nitaa nodded. \"I'll stand guard outside.\"
Ves grabbed Lucky who was comfortably lounging on the bed and brought his cat with him to the expansive bathroom attached to the main bedroom. Once he dumped Lucky onto the sink, he sat down at the closed toilet bowl and engaged his Privacy Shield.
If this lottery ticket was like any of his other great prize draws, then it would definitely conjure up a spectacle!
Once he became absolutely sure that no one except Lucky was snooping in on him, Ves diverted to his Inventory and finally used his radiant lottery ticket.
His entire surroundings shifted. It was as if a vast illusionary projection transformed the entire bathroom!
An alien environment greeted him. Green skies, yellow clouds and multiple moons stretched above his head. Closer to the ground, Ves observed that he was sitting on a rock placed at a raised plateau overlooking a vast, alien prairie!
Though the grasses were still green, the soil and rock stood out with their distinctly purple tint! Nothing about the environment suggested that it had been adapted or terraformed for humans!
He could even smell the wild and untamed alien wilderness! The scents and smells that assaulted his nose reinforced the impression that he'd been brought to an alien planet.
However, the air pressure, gravity and other factors remained the same as when he was back in his backroom. He was still on Cinach XII and the illusion the System conjured up was just another one of its fancy prize draw methods.
\"After spinning a wheel and opening up a pagoda, this is what you've come up with, System?\"
Nothing answered him. He looked around and tried to see how he could draw his prize from the empty clearing at the top of the mountain.
Eventually, he encountered a modest pool of water in the very center of the plateau. Dozens of small, finger-sized fish leisurely swam beneath its clear surface.
The fish all differed in appearances and inclinations.
Some possessed scales that featured every color of the rainbow while others appeared as black as charcoal.
Some of the fish possessed long, trailing whiskers while others possessed extra fins.
Ves deduced the intent of this pool. \"Am I supposed to catch a fish to determine my prize?\"
This method of prize drawing differed substantially from his previous lottery prize draws.
The System granted him much more agency this time! Rather than subjecting himself to the whims of chance and luck, now the System gave him greater power to decide his own winnings!
He'd be able to maximize his gains from his radiant lottery ticket as long as he caught the right fish!
\"However... which fish is the best?\" He frowned.
Ves had the feeling that the prize draw also served as a test. By giving him the power to decide his own catch, the burden of securing the best possible prize fell solely onto his shoulders.
He wouldn't be able to blame the System's miserly nature or his inconsistent luck if he ended up with a consolation prize!
\"Damnit! It's much simpler if I just spin a wheel again!\"
He studied the disparate fish. Aside from their varying appearances and behavior, none of them seemed to be difficult for him to catch. Even if he hadn't upgraded his Dexterity Attribute by a heap, he would still be able to catch one of the leisurely-swimming fish.
He did notice that certain fish tended to linger at the edge while other fish lounged closer to the center of the pool. Some fish lingered deeper while others playfully leapt into the air at times.
Ves believed that the traits exhibited by the fish carried at least some profound meaning. The flashy, rainbow fish might contain an extravagant object. However, it might also contain a useless cosmetic item!
The fluorescently-glowing green fish may be carrying an infinitely-replenishable energy source. It might also give him a highly radioactive exotic!
He really hated puzzling out the meaning of the fish with his mind. He was a mech designer, not a fish breeder! Why the hell did the Mech Designer System serve such a dumb test? He just wanted to obtain a good prize from his radiant lottery ticket!
\"Well, there's no use complaining.\" He sighed.
He began to inspect the fish carefully. After observing them for a few minutes with his eyes, he acted on a hunch and began to employ his spiritual senses and spiritual vision.
It was an illusion, after all.
It seemed as if the System did not intend to test his spiritual perception this time.
He frowned and scratched his head. \"What is the nature of this test?\"
Another thought arose in his mind. \"The way I see it, it's mainly a test of judgement. The more conventional way of solving it is to form assumptions and utilize my logic to deduce the most worthwhile fish to catch.\"
There was a problem with that. How could Ves possibly form the right assumptions when he knew absolutely nothing about fish? It was ridiculous for the System to expect him to be able to distinguish good from bad!
This was why Ves suspected that the System instead expected him to rely on another form of judgement to catch a good fish.
\"The answer is intuition!\"
Intuition! The ability to instinctively understand something without relying on conscious reasoning formed an important pillar of strength for high-ranking mech designers. Intuition distinguished mech designers from artificial intelligences that had been programmed to replicate their capabilities.
Even the most sophisticated AIs never succeeded in replicating the unique strengths of intuition which every sentient being possessed!
As soon as he made this realization, he began to look at the fish like he looked at mechs. If he ignored their surface traits and instead tried to get a feel of them, he immediately obtained some results!
\"It's working! These fish are really similar to mechs!\"
When he utilized his intuition towards the flashy rainbow fish, he no longer viewed it as the grand prize of this lottery draw.
Instead, all he saw was an overly-exaggerated mech designed purely to show off! Ves found very little substance beneath its bombastic appearance!
If Ves hadn't utilized his intuition, then he may have fallen for the System's trap and secured the most useless prize out of the radiant lottery ticket's prize pool!