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 Though Ves reacted badly towards the notion of conceptual perception, he slowly began to admit that Gloriana may be onto something.

While he firmly rejected her stance on calling it a miracle, Ves nonetheless believed that spirituality was capable of many amazing feats. Spiritual energy was just one of many high-level energies of reality. Why should Ves be bound by the constraints of his limited perspective?

Something that he considered impossible may just be possible if he found a way to accomplish it through developing a specialized spiritual application.

"In the past, humans didn't believe they could fly."

Only until pioneers invented the first aircraft did those ancient humans expand on the list of what they could accomplish. People no longer regarded flying in the air to be a ludicrous notion.

What Gloriana essentially suggested was that Ves should keep an open mind.

"What a turnaround." He muttered to himself. "Normally, I'm the one who's trying to push Gloriana to become more open-minded."

The difference was that his girlfriend attempted to steer Ves towards hexism. Perhaps that was her original motive for sharing her idea for conceptual perfection.

"Lying to reality. How bold."

Yet the more he thought about it, the more he became fascinated by the notion. He felt excited about it the more and more he thought about successfully pulling it off.

Didn't he consider himself to be a proficient liar? This should have been right up his alley!

He wasn't a fan of framing it in miracles, though. Gloriana could think what she wanted, but Ves fastly preferred to think of it as lying to reality.

Still, as bold as Gloriana's idea sounded, they were very far from realizing it. At their current state, let alone lying to reality, they probably weren't able to attract reality's attention in the first place!

Ves picked up Lucky in his arms and stared at his pet for a moment while concentrating his mind.

"You are not a gem cat. You are an organic cat. You are a creature of flesh and blood instead of alloys and circuitry."

"Meow!"

Lucky took objection at the lies spewed by Ves! The cat quickly phased out of the grasp keeping him in place and flew out of reach!

"Well, that didn't work." Ves ruefully smiled. "Maybe I should start with something smaller."

He experimented with smaller objects, ranging from an empty cup to a hair he pulled out of his head.

Nothing worked. Even when he concentrated his mind and applied a considerable amount of spirituality, the process of lying to reality completely failed.

"Reality isn't so easily fooled." He concluded after wasting a considerable amount of spiritual energy.

To be fair, his earlier experiments were merely whimsies. They had very little grounding in reality or theory.

As much as Gloriana suggested to Ves to let go of his mental constraints, he still preferred to keep his thinking at least somewhat grounded.

After a bit of thinking, he concluded that he stood a much better chance of success when designing a mech.

Gloriana evidently thought the same way. Otherwise she wouldn't have come up with the notion of conceptual perfection.

Different from trying to turn Lucky into an organic cat, both Ves and Gloriana thought that it might actually work.

They only disagreed on how it might work. While Gloriana blabbered on about miracles, Ves simply believed that they just needed to get their design seeds to do the work.

To mech designers, design seeds encapsulated the bulk of their spiritual power. It held the essence of their design philosophies and sought to make their aspirations related to them into reality.

The reason why Ves would never be able to turn Lucky into an organic cat was because his design seed obviously didn't specialize in changing cats into different species.

He didn't specialize in turning mechs perfect either. That was Gloriana's domain. However, even she didn't believe that she could lie to reality in this way on her own. She believed she needed to borrow the power of Ves' spiritual manipulation abilities to accomplish this lie.

"It's a very interesting idea." Ves scratched his chin. "Will it work?"

He believed there might be a way to accomplish it if they expanded upon the idea and developed a better theoretical framework besides calling it a miracle.

Since the notion of conceptual perfection was way beyond their reach, they didn't attempt to apply it to their custom mech project.

For now, achieving synergy between their design philosophies through mutual strengthening was sufficient.

After several more days of refinement and optimization, they tentatively reached the point where they could no longer progress.

"It's so close to completion, but we can't quite close the gap." Gloriana commented morosely after another lengthy design session at the workshop compartment.

Ves was much more nonchalant about it. So what if they left it unfinished?

"We only need a couple of days to complete our design once the conditions are right. William Urbesh isn't going anywhere. We'll be able to study him and make the final adjustments once we get a hold of him in person."

Although they made huge strides in designing their custom mech, neither of them wanted to close this project.

Gloriana never designed a custom mech without meeting a mech pilot in person. Medical data and psychological analyses only provided so much input to her work. In order to make absolutely sure her work fit its intended mech pilot as perfectly as possible, she needed to study William Urbesh by herself.

As for Ves, he needed to make at least some effort to customize the spiritual component of the custom mech to William Urbesh.

He could have made a cheap effort by constructing an image of William Urbesh from his imagination before infusing it with his spiritual energy in order to make it more substantial.

Yet how well did he know William Urbesh? Not much at all! Any image he constructed of the man in his mind would never match with the real Urbesh!

If Ves wanted to tweak the spiritual foundation of the custom mech to be more in tune with William Urbesh, then he needed to find some way to siphon a minute portion of the cowardly mech pilot's spirituality.

That might be a little risky.

Unlike most mech pilots, William Urbesh possessed a very miniscule but noticeable trace of spirituality. Since he possessed so little of it, what kind of damage would Ves inflict if he took a chunk of it away?

Well, it would be fine as long as Urbesh didn't die on the spot.

Of course, even if he retrieved a mote of spirituality from Urbesh's spiritually-underdeveloped mentality, Ves did not intend to apply it directly.

Gloriana's notion of lying to reality inspired him to tamper with the mote of spirituality. What if he could he could distort the mote by getting rid of the cowardly attributes and replace it with courageous attributes?

If he implemented this tampered mote into his custom mech design, then would he be able to influence William Urbesh's personality through this fashion?

It sounded incredibly dangerous and unethical to Ves. He was working on some dubious theories and assumptions. If even one step went wrong, Urbesh would bear all of the consequences!

"You're making that goofy grin again, Ves. What are you thinking about?"

Ves shook his head. "Ah, nothing. I was just thinking about a test subject."

Since they couldn't find a way to bring their custom mech design closer to completion, they wrapped it up and put it aside for later.

As the both of them went their separate ways, Ves returned to his guest room and decided to get in touch with his favorite double-dealing assistant.

"Benny. How is the LMC doing?" Ves asked over the comm.

"Good. We've overcome a lot of obstacles in the past few weeks since the introduction of the Desolate Soldier and the Holy Soldier models. The latter is doing exceptionally well, but you already know that. The Ylvainans have already fielded the first Holy Soldiers in battle!"

That caused Ves to raise his eyebrows. "Send me the footage if possible. I'll review them later. How did the battle go?"

"It was an overwhelming victory for the Ylvainans. They were experimenting with three mech companies that consisted entirely of Holy Soldiers when a single basic sandman fleet dropped into the star system. The Kronons aborted their drills and moved to intercept the sandman fleet and easily managed to take it down."

A single sandman fleet wasn't that much of a challenge to defeat so long as the defenders held their ground.

"How many losses did the Kronons suffer?"

"Nine mechs, of which only three managed to eject in time. Their carriers also sustained moderate damage. The Kronons believe that they'll be able to reduce their losses once they become more proficient with the Holy Soldiers."

Ves became a little grim when he heard the results. Losing nine cheap mechs was no big loss for a state as large as the Ylvaine Protectorate.

What concerned him more was that the Kronon Dynasty lost six valuable mech pilots.

If Ves compared the relative strengths of a sandman fleet to 120 Holy Soldiers, then losing six mech pilots still amounted to a victory!

Yet even though many sandman fleets could easily be defeated, they always harvested at least some lives and mechs.

Those six missing mech pilots meant that the Kronons had less mech pilots at their disposal when the next sandman fleet arrived.

In the span of a month, more than twenty separate sandman fleets might invade a typical star system! Even if they arrived one at a time, the defenders inevitably bled more and more mechs and mech pilots after each victorious battle.

The most dreadful aspect about the sandmen was that even if a mech force kept winning every battle, there came a point where they would lose the war. With no way to stop attrition, eventually the umpteenth sandman fleet would succeed where dozens had failed.

While Ves grasped some hope at Gavin's mention that the Kronons were attempting to reduce their losses for next time, there was only so much they could do.

Both the Holy Soldier and the Desolate Soldier were cheap and disposable by design. Getting hit even once by a sandman laser strike often spelled instant death.

No matter how much faith the Kronon mech pilots held in their Holy Soldiers, it was impossible for them to conjure up a miracle that could block these attacks.

"Are the Ylvainans satisfied?"

Gavin grinned. "Very so. Reportedly, every Kronon mech pilot who received the privilege of piloting a Holy Soldier doesn't want to go back to their old machine. It's safe to say that customer satisfaction for our Holy Soldier is incredibly high!"

Of course they loved his variant. Ves expressly went out of his way to incorporate a mote of Ylvaine's spiritual fragment into its design!

"Have our sales projections for the Holy Soldier changed in light of recent events?"

"Not at first, boss. With how fast our partners are ramping up production, we're very confident we'll be able around 5,000 Holy Soldiers in the first month. As for the second month, our previous estimate of selling 10,000 Holy Soldiers turned out to be on the low side. We think we can at least sell 20,000 Holy Soldiers, if not more!"

"That fast?"

"The Protectorate's mech market is still relatively closed. You aren't facing as much competition there. Once your Holy Soldier entered the market, it has quickly become the only game in town when it comes to cheap and simple spaceborn rifleman mechs. Not even the mechs designed by their local Seniors can compete against your work!"

Ves felt a little bad about that, but only for a little while. Even if Ylvainan Senior Mech Designers were a little more backwards in his eyes, they were still very good mech designers. Ves wasn't about to put them out of business by stealing their market share!

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