Ves put off his thoughts on the matter of complicity like he always did. Some day, he'd be confronted by it and have no choice but to make a definite choice, but for now the issue had not yet become too pertinent.
Besides, the Skull Architect may not have any intentions of commercializing his variants. Perhaps the old man only wanted to study Ves' design philosophy for research purposes.
After all, a sacred design that a sagely Senior had masterfully crafted together would inevitably become spoiled by the crude touch of an immature Apprentice.
It was as if an expert painter finished ninety-five percent of his painting, but left the last five percent to a three-year old kid who drooled onto his shirt. No matter how prodigious the kid was in painting the gaps, unless he was some freak reincarnated master painter, the quality of that five percent was assuredly abysmal in the eyes of the original artist.
So Ves still held out hope that the Skull Architect valued his pride and reputation too much to rely on the work of an Apprentice to earn some extra K-coins.
"Though if the sales potential of my variant is too promising, I don't know if it will stoke his greed."
Mech designers never had enough money! Developing mechs and running an industry constantly demanded more funds to sustain.
A Novice might get by with a couple of hundred million bright credits that they could gain from a loan.
Apprentice almost always required an investment of several billion credits.
As for Journeymen, Ves had no idea how much they needed, but he believed even 100 billion credits might not be enough.
Seniors on the other hand... their vast research projects and huge business enterprises could only be sustained by an uncountable sum of money!
Ves could not even fathom the exact sum, but he knew that this was one of the reasons why Seniors based in the Bright Republic almost never succeeded in advancing to Master!
"When the Skull Architect used to be a respected Senior in the Vermeer Group, money is the one resource he must be lacking the least."
From extreme abundance to extreme poverty, the shift in earnings must have represented such a shock to the man that he might have suffered lingering trauma from that event!
"Damn.. Seniors can't be money grubbers. They can't. It's undignified!"
Would a pirate designer who already became disgraced even care about dignity anymore?
Ves grew pensive at the thought, because he knew what his decision would be when put on the same spot. "Dignity is not the same as reputation. The Skull Architect is playing by different rules now, otherwise he'd go by his real name and not this nickname. Selling some lesser quality mechs under your name is more than worth it if you can rake in the K-coins and spend them on furthering your research or strengthening your position in the frontier."
To mech designers, gathering K-coins was not an end in itself. It represented future benefits in a universal form. While it required time and effort to convert K-coins into something useful, he vastly preferred being able to spend some at all rather than none.
In conclusion, a mech designer that wanted to more than sit on their laurels had to spend lots of money to progress. Someone as ambitious as the Skull Architect once ordered the deaths of more than a thousand mech designers including an expert in order to further their research. Would who was willing to ignore the basic rules of morality really be bothered by lesser desires?
Ves grimaced even further. It was rather eerie to be able to predict the Skull Architect's thought process and logic to such a deep degree.
"We are kindred mech designers."
The statement rang false, yet contained enough truth to stick in his mind.
The root of it lay in the fact that mech design was an art as well as a science. The science provided the building blocks on how to design a mech, but art provided the creativity that connected the blocks into unique and original structures.
A normal artist produced boring, normal art. A maddened, tortured or insane artist produced extreme works of art.
Somehow, the benign intent behind the advancement ladder of mech designers from Novice Mech Designer to Star Designer began to fade away. Left in its place was a vortex of madness, a hungry maw that called out a siren song seducing trillions of naive mech designers to sacrifice pieces of their sanity in exchange for power.
"This is madness!" He spoke, though whether he referred to the trap that lay behind the advancement ladder or what his overactive imagination cooked up wasn't clear. "Mech designers are not sacrificial lambs who willingly lead themselves over to the altar to be butchered!"
Ves forcefully discarded this entire train of thought before it led him deeper into lurid figments of his imagination. Even though all of his spurious deductions sounded compellingly truthful in a horribly morbid fashion, it didn't change the fact that he had no solid proof to substantiate any of these fantasies!
He frowned as he sat behind his desk in his empty office. Paranoia always lingered in his mind ever since his father became a fugitive of some secretive trans-galactic organization that rivalled the MTA and CFA in influence. Yet lately these outbursts of spinning conspiracy theories on the fly was plainly out of the norm for a rational mind that dismissed any claims that lacked solid proof.
"My mentality is.. degenerating? Cracking? Becoming less stable?"
He palmed his forehead, trying to look into his mind. Sadly, his thoughts bounced everywhere except where he wanted them to be. He never possessed the most orderly mind.
"That time when I ate a completely alien exoplant also didn't do my mind any favors. I still don't know what that so-called Heavenly Flower exactly did that makes Dr. Jutland so obsessed about nurturing it. I have a feeling it's not supposed to be eaten raw at all..."
In any case, flower or not, his mind was as ephemeral and disorderly as always so long as he left it alone. His Spirituality made no difference in that aspect. In fact, it might have amplified the disorderly thoughts running in his subconscious mind.
The only advantage of his potent mind was that once he concentrated deeply on something, all of that energy aligned itself to his intentions. He could breathe life to images created in his mind, he could expand his senses and try to sense other people's auras, and he suspected that he might one day be able to affect their emotions as well.
Still, he couldn't maintain his concentration on a single subject every waking moment. Humans simply weren't geared that way.
Ves simply had to accept that this was the price he paid in exchange for the increased capabilities that allowed him to bestow his mechs with a strong X-Factor. He only hoped he could figure out a way to tame his unruly mind and its frequent irrational impulses. Perhaps the Five Scrolls Compact managed to figure out a way to restrain these urges.
"...Or maybe not. By all accounts, the organization is completely made up of crazies and mad scientists."
That sounded remarkably familiar to what Ves had just thought about mech designers. It reinforced the notion in his mind that the Five Scrolls Compact mirrored the Mech Trade Association.
One was in the dark, the other in the light. Both provided vital services to humanity, even if Ves didn't wish to acknowledge that. He had recently determined that powerful men and women would do anything to extend their lives by a few hundred years. As the supposed inventors of life-prolonging treatment, they offered the most attractive incentives to those who were willing to sell their souls to the terrorist organization.
One organization worked with machines, the other with life. Both tried to research the depths of their own fields, often going through extreme lengths as they did. Perhaps the only reason why the MTA remained respectable while the Compact became so ostracised their existence was scoured from the public was that their research demanded too many human lives to progress their research.
"What happened to the Skull Architect is an exception. Most of the research that Senior Mech Designers conduct won't harm anything but a couple of machines, which they can easily replace as long as they have enough money."
This comparison only served to strengthen the suspicion in his mind that mech designers all dabbled with madness. They were only tolerated because they limited their hurt to machines.
Would Ves become as unhinged as Dr. Jutland one day? As someone who treasured and respected mechs, and wished for them to be treated akin to humans, would he be forced to torture his own mechs to further his research in making them come alive?
"I don't believe it will come to that!" He spoke to himself with conviction. He needed to believe in his own statement.
"There's an apt analogy that describes the state of mech designers."
If people likened mech pilots to gods, then mech designers were regarded as wizards. The more they progressed, the more their abilities left the boundaries of science and increasingly took on unknown mysteries that others struggled to explain.
How could average people without a background in science explain it as anything other than magic?
Yet the comparison to wizards may not always be benign. Just as wizards were prone to descending into obsession and madness, so would mech designers and other kinds of researchers.
The MTA fell into the camp of light wizards while the Five Scrolls Compact counted among the dark wizards.
Yet for all their differences, they shared the same fate in the end, because they were mirrored reflections of each other.
"What am I doing here letting my thoughts run wild? I should do something to distract myself."
The whole spat with Ketis and Chief Haine already grated on him. Ves resolutely tried to avoid descending into darker thoughts by resorting to his most familiar trick.
Concentrating his mind on a project.
Ves turned on his terminal and called up the dense and abstruse research papers related to ultracompact batteries. He felt unprecedented motivated to increase his understanding in their contents quickly.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click for visiting.
The sooner he was done with this step, the faster he could end his exposure to their mental contamination.
The safer approach might have been to take it slow, but a persistent, low-level influence on his mentality had the potential to be much more insidious due to how it affected his subconscious rather than conscious mind. He could catch any changes of the latter before they spun out of control.
A few days passed by like this while the Flagrant Swordmaiden fleet continued to be in transit to an unknown star system in the frontier.
Perhaps it was the madness tugging at his mind, but Ves progressed quite a bit faster than before. The cracks in his mind may have frayed his emotions and led them to strange outbursts that he consciously needed to suppress, but they also liberated his mind from established logic and rules.
By making incredible leaps of logic that he never would have done with his rationality fully intact, he sometimes progressed by leaps and bounds. Research papers that required three or four days to comprehend their essence only took half a day for him to under!
"If this is the benefit of losing a bit of your insanity, then no wonder!"
Ves at least hadn't thrown out his common sense. Each hour, he took a lengthy fifteen-minute break in order to center his mind and neutralize the damage he incurred on his mind. Some cracks in his mind proved helpful in processing the difficult theories, but he couldn't afford to widen the cracks until his mind permanently became stuck in this state.
He only wanted to take advantage of the state of madness, not revel in it! Though the temptation to embrace it in order to further his mech design abilities was huge, he was able to resist the temptation because he already possessed something better back at Cloudy Curtain.
Ves already had his hands full with his current eccentricities.