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 Gloriana was in no mood to dive into their new project after she finished adjusting her principles.

Before, she willingly embraced the incorporation of a spiritual component to her conception of the perfect vessel. The insights she received back then slotted in her mind as if she was adding an important piece to the puzzle in her design philosophy.

This time was different. Under his deliberate manipulation, her design philosophy, which formerly followed a straight direction, suddenly took a crooked turn!

Such a major shift in her future progression was so impactful that she still wasn't quite sure what she was getting into now. Her previous ambitions no longer matched her current direction. She needed to spend some time to process all of the changes and alter her prior goals.

The shift she went through reminded Ves of the time the System forced him to develop a gamma laser rifle to upgrade his Physics Skill to Senior.

Just like how the System prodded him to become less rigid in his principles back then, Ves had taken on a similar role to guide Gloriana towards a more open and adaptable mindset.

Ves didn't question whether the System was even a good role model for him to emulate. Even though the System liked to make things difficult for him, he always thought he benefited from its lessons. He would have never become the mech designer he was today without its guidance.

A few minutes passed by as both mech designers remained silent. Eventually, Gloriana recovered and directed a resentful glance at Ves.

She lightly punched his arm. "Sometimes, I wonder what I'm getting into by binding myself to you. Not even my teachers have impacted my design philosophy to this extent! If I didn't trust you so much, I would have ordered Clixie to claw off your face!"

"Miaow?"

The Rubarthan Sentinel Cat looked up from the cat bed placed next to the loveseat.

"Meow."

Lucky pawed at Clixie, causing her to stop paying attention to their owners and get back to grooming each other.

Having anticipated Gloriana's response, Ves smiled apologetically while he retrieved something from his pockets. "I have a gift for you. Why don't you try them out?"

He handed over the pair of cosmetic cat ears made out of Zeigra's fur he reserved for Gloriana.

As his girlfriend accepted the accessories with confusion, Ves retrieved his own pair and placed them atop his head. "Come on! I think you'll look cute!"

That convinced her. She summoned a mirror projection from her comm and admired how well the black-furred complimented her appearance. Her eyes instantly sparkled.

"Thank you, Ves! I love them! Come closer, let's take a snapshot together!"

She stretched out her arm and dragged Ves closer until they pressed their shoulders against each other. They smiled at her comm which recorded a high-fidelity three-dimensional image of them sitting on the loveseat.

"Let's bring our cats into the picture as well! Come over here, Clixie!"

After they called over their pets, they took another snapshot with their two cats resting on their laps. Gloriana loved every image they took of themselves and even recorded a few seconds of footage.

"Hihihi! This would look lovely on my Commbook page!"

She quickly manipulated her comm to upload the best and wholesome-looking image on her Commbook page.

Peering at her comm, Ves watched her actions with bemusement. "You have a Commbook page?"

"Of course! Why wouldn't I? It's the largest social network in the galaxy!"

Backed by the Comm Consortium, Commbook's reach spread far and wide. Wherever the galactic net reached, Commbook inevitably held sway."

"It's also a cesspool for junk and conspiracy theories. It brings out the worst of humanity." Ves scoffed.

"I still use it to stay in touch with my friends and colleagues. What about you?"

"I stopped fooling around with Commbook a long time ago and closed my page. Whatever can be gained from virtual reality is inconsequential compared to what I can gain from physical reality."

In the past, he started practising his skills by designing virtual mechs. However, that was just a phase in his life.

While the LMC still published his mech designs in virtual form to allow the public to experience his products without a significant cost, Ves no longer paid much attention to it. A mech designer never progressed by relying purely on virtual mech designs.

"That's such a shame." Gloriana remarked. "No wonder you didn't accept my friend invite. I thought you blocked me! Well, it's no big deal. After all, having you by my side is much better!"

They quickly shoved the matter aside after Gloriana uploaded a cute image of them together. Their new cat ears made it seem as if they were intimately together, which was probably the biggest reason why she felt so eager to put it on her Commbook page.

In any case, Ves succeeded in distracting Gloriana from what he did to her. She was a much more pleasant person to be around as long as she was happy.

She was so happy with her gift that she even snuggled and kissed Ves for a time. Of course, she also kept a watchful eye on Melody and stopped just short of provoking another intervention.

"Let's discuss our project!" She chirped.

Ves nodded. "Let me lay down my requirements."

He briefly explained what he desired from the end product. He wanted the customized Desolate Soldier to fit William Urbesh as best as possible. The most important demand he posed was that it had to be as comfortable and fitting to him as possible.

Though it sounded simple, Gloriana slowly frowned as she realized an immediate problem.

"You told me that Urbesh specializes in piloting landbound axeman mechs. Even with extensive training, I doubt he feels comfortable in piloting a spaceborn rifleman mech. Is it even possible to design a mech that fits him perfectly?"

An inherent contradiction emerged that faintly started to trouble her mind again. She had never experienced so many paradigm shifts before she hooked up with Ves!

Fortunately, Ves had already thought of this issue.

"We are not aiming to achieve perfection. It's good enough to get close to perfect as possible while adhering to our limitations. This is a good test for you. Unlike your previous projects, you won't have access to your usual luxuries. You need to rely on your own skill to make the most out of limited means. This is what third-class mech designers like myself face every day. That's why my other demand is that we shouldn't rely on better materials or parts to improve our custom mech."

Second-class mech designers were capable of designing amazing mechs, but their efficiency was always a bit lower than their poorer counterparts. Every class of mech designer possessed their own strengths.

Gloriana regarded the new project as a challenge and a test. "I'll do it. It's not what I'm used to, but I feel kind of excited now that I think about it. Without distracting myself from chasing after the best tech and exotics I can get my hands upon, the outcome of our efforts will mainly rely on our skill."

"It's the best opportunity to see if our design philosophies can complement each other. We can make a direct comparison between our custom mech design and the standard Desolate Soldier Design."

Just like Gloriana, Ves looked forward at the results as well. He always sensed that Gloriana withheld a lot of strength when she worked on the Desolate Soldier project.

Now that he appointed her as the lead designer of their custom mech project, she was free to unleash some of her repressed design urges.

They called up the design schematic of the Desolate Soldier and studied it for a moment.

"One of the first things we need to alter is the structure of the mech. The body proportions of the Desolate Soldier should match the proportions of the mech pilot as closely as possible."

"Is that necessary?" Ves questioned.

"Not entirely. A large person can pilot a light mech just fine. It's just that there is always an element of dissociation at the start. As the mech pilot practices with the mech over time, they will slowly develop new reflexes and muscle memory adapted to the mech frame."

"Urbesh doesn't have the time to spare." Ves commented. "It's best if he can get the hang of his new custom mech as fast as possible."

"Right, and adjusting the body proportions of the base model is a good way to shorten the adjustment period. Let me show you how it's done."

Since William Urbesh was under the complete care of the Larkinsons, Ves had already obtained very detailed medical data on his body. He transferred them over to Gloriana, who studied them for a time before beginning to morph the Desolate Soldier's frame.

Overall, the altered proportions caused the Desolate Soldier to look a little shorter and stockier. It lost its sense of litheness typical to budget mechs and ranged mechs.

If the altered mech wielded an axe instead of a rifle, then it would have looked a lot more natural!

This reflected William Urbesh's physical fitness. Even though he was a complete coward, like any mech pilot he maintained a physically-intensive training regime, which included practicing with handheld axes.

If there was one benefit that he derived from his stay with the Rim Guardians, it was that they had tuned up his body!

"I didn't think you would go this far." He said. "With such drastic changes, we'll have to overhaul the entire internal structure of our mech!"

It was one thing if Gloriana lengthened the arms by a centimeter or something. Such a change only forced him to make some extensions and fill up some extra space. Yet changing the proportions of the torso and all of the limbs of the mech in so many aspects meant that the existing internal architecture had broken down entirely!

There was no way the mech would be able to function with so much rejigging!

Gloriana waved away his concerns. "It's not that bad. The Desolate Soldier is not a complex mech and many of the design choices you've made can still be applied to this altered version, which saves us lots of time."

This was just the start. She outlined many more alterations to the internal structure. She had developed a vast array of methods to make a mech fit a mech pilot like a glove, many of which Ves had never even conceived of before!

In some cases, he no longer kept up with her train of thought as she started to draw upon the unique theories and principles of her design philosophy!

The more Gloriana showed off her ingenuity, the more Ves felt ashamed at his prior custom mechs! All of his earlier machines designed for single mech pilots had never truly been adjusted to their mech pilots.

It was more apt to say that Ves simply designed a mech like usual, but only produced a single copy. Aside from abiding by the rules of a competition or meeting the demands of his client, he did not expend a lot of effort into figuring out how much better a mech could fit a specific mech pilot.

Gloriana held nothing back and confidently explained her methods as if she had nothing to hide. Ves soaked up as much as he could. Even if he only understood a portion of her theories and methods, he still gained an enormous improvement in his ability to design a custom mech!

This not only came handy if he was designing a custom mech on his own. The reason why Gloriana explained so much was that she wanted him to become familiar with her design style.

The more he became familiar with her way of working, the better he could integrate his own design style with hers! Only when both knew what the other was capable of would they be able to combine their strengths without stepping on each other's toes.

"Did you get it?" She happily clapped her hands together. "No matter. Once we begin to work, we will see how it goes! I'm confident we can turn the Desolate Soldier into something special! As our first true collaboration, I won't allow it besmirch this special moment of ours!"

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