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 The problems Ves had with the Pale Dancer came from its corrupted vision.

"If you analyze its specs, how it fits with Venerable Xie's abilities, and look at its intended vision, you can see a clear underlying thread running throughout its entire design. The vision for the Pale Dancer has been crooked from the start. The Senior Mech Designer who designed this insidious rifleman mech failed to adhere to the mech designer's creed. Do you still remember what that's about?"

"Uh, it's that phrase about how mech designers should cater to mech pilots as if we're their slavish servants."

"Something like that, but not so severe. The point is that mech designers have a responsibility to design a mech that benefits the mech pilots the most. This especially applies to one-on-one commissions to design a custom mech involving a single mech designer and a single mech pilot."

Whoever designed the Pale Dancer intended to deliver an improper product to the Fourth Prince and Venerable Xie at the initial stage of conception.

While Ves didn't have access to any other designs that Xie might have piloted, he would bet that those mechs consisted of flawed designs as well.

No, flawed would be the wrong word to apply to this case. They were outright malicious, meant to sabotage his future progress without being too obvious about it! How long had this been going on?

"Who is the mech designer of the Pale Dancer?" He asked.

Ketis already dug up the attribution, though there didn't appear to be much to go on. "It says here that it's designed by some Senior retained by the Royal House of Talk. It doesn't add much else."

He grunted. "That's to be expected. I doubt a Senior is willing enough to sign the design with their personal name. Has it gone through MTA validation and certification?"

"No. Didn't you say that expert mechs are never sent to the MTA, teacher?"

"I wanted to make sure. Have you figured out the story behind the Pale Dancer?"

Even if Ketis hadn't been exposed to politics in civilized space, she wasn't stupid. Besides, she watched drama broadcasts from the galactic net like anyone else in her youth. Dynastic struggles breaking out in feudal states were some of the most all-time popular shows in the galaxy.

Ketis ran a hand through the underside of her open helmet. "I bet this Fourth Prince was a loser from the start. The other princes and princesses in the Royal House of Talk likely wielded a lot more power than the Fourth Prince, because they managed to influence their resident Senior Mech Designer to bend his principles and design an awful expert mech for the Fourth Prince's personal champion."

"That's my thoughts as well." He nodded. "By all accounts, the Palast Kingdom is a third-rate state of the Dark Plasma Star Sector, so even if its a Royal House, they shouldn't be able to retain another Senior. With only one mech designer at the top, he can do virtually anything, but that also means securing his loyalty is one of the top priorities of the competing heirs. The Fourth Prince obviously lost at this game, and quite badly as well."

"Still, didn't you say that orthodox mech designers take their principles seriously? How come this Senior acted like a scumbag and handed over the Pale Dancer to one of his clients?"

Ves shook his head. "Politics in civilized space can be just as sleazy as in the frontier. Technically, the Senior retained by Talk fulfilled his end of the bargain. He designed a suitable expert mech for Venerable Xie that allows him to express his full strength. The Senior just didn't do anything extra, even though it is usually customary to do so. If you interpret the principles in a minimalistic way, you can still get away with it without appearing as a hypocrite."

"Wow. That's really dirty."

"That's why the Fourth Prince should have retained his own mech designer instead of relying someone from his Royal House. There are too many ways a mech designer can screw with their mech pilots if they don't take the mech designer's creed seriously."

This explained why the MTA constantly pushed their creed into every mech designer's face every chance they got. Recalling how many times he heard the phrase back in school, Ves realized that the MTA basically attempted to indoctrinate the values related to the mech designer's creed into every prospective mech designer's moral fiber.

The mech industry would truly be an awful sight if mech designers stopped working in the best interests of their clients. Something like that already took place in the frontier.

Ketis frowned. "Still, does this even matter right now? Limitations aside, the Pale Dancer does the job and its wholly intact. That's just what we need, right? Who cares about growth and future potential and such. I'd be happy enough if we have an expert pilot on our side with a ready-made expert mech for when we reach the Starlight Megalodon."

She had a point. Ves had subconsciously treated Venerable Xie as a long-term investment, but the fact of the matter was that the Flagrant Swordmaidens didn't have the luxury to think so far ahead.

"I suppose if the Vandals aren't looking for a long-term replacement for Venerable O'Callahan, then Venerable Xie will be a fine addition to our reserves." He muttered. "It's a shame he lost his Meridian Echo. Even if we put him in the cockpit of a spare spaceborn rifleman mech, he will only be able to show off a fraction of his full potential. Such a weak mech won't be able to keep up with his performance."

"It doesn't have to be a rifleman mech." She pointed out. "Doesn't his profile state that he's cross-trained in many different melee and ranged mechs? You can put him in one of your Akkara heavy cannoneers if you want to blast enemies apart from afar. You can also put him in one of your Hellcat hybrid knights if you want an absolute beast of a champion mech."

"Hm, that's right! In fact.." A very subversive idea started tickling in his mind. "If we modify the old Parallax Star, we can even make it suitable to be piloted by Venerable Xie!"

Ves only threw that idea out there. He didn't actually believe the Vandals would go for it, because such an action disrespected Venerable O'Callahan. Bastard and deadbeat he may be, the man had fought on behalf of the Vandals and sacrificed his diminishing lifespan to save his lives.

As long as he could deploy for one final time, the Parallax Star remained his personal steed.

Still, on a utilitarian level, it would have been much more beneficial to the Vandals if they simply dumped the useless old man out of the airlock and convert his wonderfully-built custom lancer mech to a new expert pilot. The only issue that Ves was worrying about was whether Venerable Xie could even make use of the Parallax Star in the first place. His low level of resonance strength meant that the lancer mech wouldn't be able to draw out its full potential.

"These kinds of issues are none of our concern." He shook his head. "However the Vandals intend to make use of Venerable Xie once they obtain his loyalty, that's something our superiors will have to figure out."Find authorized novels in Webnovel,faster updates, better experience,Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.

Ves sent out his final report to Major Verle and let the man take over from there.

As negotiations dragged on, the Flagrant Swordmaiden fleet accelerated towards the fleeing Rovista Splendor and her flagging supply ships. The Fire Treaders with their nimble ships and mechs easily overtook them in no time, leaving the Rovista Splendor as the only remaining vessel out of a decent-sized colonization fleet.

It was an ignoble end to the Shining Stars Colonization Fleet. The Flagrant Swordmaidens held all the chips in this negotiation. By the end of the talks, the Fourth Prince would hardly have anything left.

If not for the fact that an expert pilot couldn't be coerced into working for someone else, then the Vandals and the Swordmaidens would have straight up captured the Rovista Splendor and divided the spoils among themselves.

After some time, Major Verle opened up a private channel to Ves. He activated his station's privacy screen, cutting himself off from Ketis and the rest, and accepted the request.

"Mr. Larkinson, the negotiations have proceeded favorably on our end. It is likely that we will be able to command the loyalty of Venerable Karol Xie, not only just for the duration of our mission, but on a permanent basis. In order to welcome him to the Vandals and make him feel at home, I have assigned a liaison to induct him in our ranks. One of the issues I am considering is which ship should be his new berth. What is your view on the matter?"

"He won't be staying aboard the Rovista Splendor, sir?"

"No. We don't want him to continue to maintain his ties with the Fourth Prince. The Rovista Splendor along with her owner will in fact be sent elsewhere soon enough. We need to convert Venerable Xie to the Vandals as quickly as possible in order to prepare him for deployment when we finally reach the site of the Starlight Megalodon. Can the Venerable and his remaining expert mech be brought to the Shield of Hispania?"

In other words, Major Verle wanted to indoctrinate Venerable Xie in person if possible. It made sense as mech pilots trained as bodyguards and personal guards were pretty much indoctrinated to worship their patrons.

Reprogramming decades worth of indoctrination required an extremely intensive effort from the Vandals themselves.

It all depended on what Venerable Xie really thought about the Fourth Prince and how much of his oaths he still valued. A bot would still follow its master even if he turned out to be a loser too stupid to survive. An expert pilot might not be so unflinchingly loyal no matter how much indoctrination he went through in his early career.

Ves thought about the proposal seriously and quickly shook his head. "Perhaps stationing Venerable Xie aboard the Shield of Hispania will make it easier for us to welcome him to the Vandals, but it won't do his mechs any good. The Pale Dancer is a highly specialized mech with an extremely sophisticated design, sir. It requires a special touch to be able to keep it together."

"Can't Chief Haine and her men perform some basic upkeep? I'm not asking for you to update its design. The mech is sufficient for our needs at its current state." Verle raised his eyebrow.

Ves immediately shook his head. "Chief Haine and her mech technicians may be some of the best of their profession in the mech regiment, but they aren't trained to service custom mechs, sir. Any work that needs to be done on the Pale Dancer and any other customized mech you want to assign the Venerable can only be done by myself. And I'm warning you that the Pale Dancer urgently requires some modifications because as robust as it is, several of its components aren't rated to withstand a heavy gravity environment."

This news basically ruled out the possibility of stationing the Pale Dancer on the Shield of Hispania.

"Then.. the only choice of berth that remains is the Gorgon's Gaze." Major Verle surmised as he scratched his chin. "Do you think the crew of the ship is up to hosting the Pale Dancer?"

Ves grimaced a bit as he recalled the people assigned to service the Parallax Star. "I'll be honest with you, sir. I don't like Miss Lisbeth Eta-Denmerksen's spendthrift ways and the way Chief Leo Keys acts like a total doormat to her demands. However, they are perhaps the only mech designer and chief technician in our fleet that aren't occupied with any existing duties right now, and they also possess the right qualifications to service an expert mech such as the Pale Dancer."

"Hmm.. I understand." Major Verle nodded. "I will make the appropriate arrangements. However, I would feel reassured if you spend some time with the Pale Dancer yourself. If Miss Eta-Denmersken is as unreliable as you say, then you will need to take charge of the modification process."

"You want me to transfer to the Gorgon's Gaze, sir?" Ves asked with mild alarm.

"In fact, I am ordering you to. Pack up your bags and shuttle over to the Gorgon's Gaze. Prepare to receive Venerable Xie and the Pale Dancer, and work as fast as you can to harden his custom mech for high gravity environments. Are you clear of your assignment, Mr. Larkinson?"

"Understood, sir." Ves sighed. "I will transfer over immediately."