The Mech Touch Chapter 1058
1056 Influence Network
The obligation to pay a visit to the MTA's headquarters in the star sector once Ves advanced to Journeyman unsettled him after his meeting with Professor Ventag.
Unless he wanted to cut ties and run off into the frontier to become a fugitive pirate designer like the Skull Architect, he had little choice but to pay tribute to the MTA in this way.
It was yet another concern that Ves had little choice but to comply if he wanted to maintain his elevating status within civilized space. As the professor already mentioned, advancing to Journeyman would permanently mark him as an individual of note in the galaxy.
No longer would he be considered a forgettable individual in the uncounted masses of the rest of humanity. A Journeyman Mech Designer stood on the same footing as an expert pilot such as Venerable Foster, Venerable Xie and Venerable O'Callahan in terms of social status.
Ves huffed. "In practice, expert pilots enjoy all the glory and adoration of the public."
Most mech designers were fine with that. Their profession didn't lend them too well to public spectacles. Compared to a straightforward mech duel between mech pilots, a design duel between mech designers was an absolute bore to watch to most laymen.
The increasingly vain part of Ves hated the popularity disparity between the two professions, but the rational part of him cautioned him that there was little use obsessing over this matter. For better or worse, expert pilots enjoyed all the limelight in the Bright Republic.
Perhaps as compensation for their relative lack of attention, Journeyman Mech Designers usually grew insanely wealthy. Practically every Journeyman who entered the private sector became a billionaire within a couple of years.
Even the Journeymen who opted to work for the public sector or the military received a lot of benefits in the form of access to exclusive knowledge or other accommodations.
"Journeyman Mech Designers have it good." Ves remarked with hungry eyes. He couldn't wait to become one himself! "I'll finally get rid of my pitiful Apprentice status and become a real adult in the mech industry!"
Naturally, the increased power and ability of Journeyman Mech Designers also meant he received new commitments. They couldn't just run off and do whatever they wanted.
With power came responsibility, that was one of the messages that Professor Ventag tried to convey to Ves earlier. As the main galactic regulatory organization for mechs, mech pilots and mech designers, the MTA would make sure that Ves wielded his power responsibly instead of going astray that caused the Skull Architect to flee from the Friday Coalition.
His advancement to Journeyman also led to another major change. His relationship with Master Olson changed substantially as well at that moment. He would finally become a mech designer worthy of her notice.
"She did tell me that she expects me to assist her organization in some way." Ves remembered.
Every Master Mech Designer led a vast organization and influence network of subordinate mech designers and associated companies. As a young and relatively recently-advanced Master, Carmin Olson's influence network was not as large or mature as the influence network of the older and more established Masters.
To Master Olson, the assistance of every mech designer counted, particularly one who she invested in early like Ves. Even if their relationship was mostly transactional, Ves was fine with associating himself to a Master in this way.
Just like his recent association with Senator Tovar, he already benefited from staying under Master Olson's umbrella. Occasionally working on her behalf would allow him to enjoy greater protection and access to exclusive goodies.
"One day, I'll be in Master Olson's position, and many mech designers will compete for my favor." Ves daydreamed with a silly smile.
Even before his advancement to Journeyman, his return to civilian life also gave him the opportunity to reconnect to the System. His reunion to the mystical incarnation of the Metal Scroll was long overdue. Despite its contentious origins, right now Ves highly desired to make use of it to increase his chances of designing a successful super-medium space knight.
"Some of the suggestions made by Professor Ventag is rather hard to follow. It would be good for me if I am actually able to understand the essence of those difficult principles."
A few days quietly passed by as the escort fleet made its way back to the Bright Republic. Surprisingly, Professor Ventag paid him a visit in his quarters and deposited a data pad on his desk.
"Do you remember your earlier request? Ordinarily, Apprentice Mech Designers aren't allowed to access the records of our esteemed expert pilots. However, I've pulled some strings and traded some favors to fulfill your wish. Through a lot of effort, I managed to receive permission to share a redacted record of a single space knight expert pilot from a friendly mech regiment. This is the best I can do for you. Is that enough for your needs?"
Ves picked up the data pad with a careful grip. He felt very grateful for Professor Ventag's efforts on his behalf. "Thank you for fulfilling my request. I'm sure I can do a lot of good with this even if it contains only a single record. It must have been difficult to pry it loose from the Mech Corps."
"You have no idea." The professor chuckled. "Remember, I'm only doing this favor for you because of our friendship and to repay what you've done for us so far. Continue the good work."
Message received. "I'll be sure to keep that in mind in the future."
"By the way, don't take that data pad out or try to copy its contents elsewhere. You only have six hours to study Venerable Fontain's record before the data pad automatically wipes its contents. The guards stationed outside your quarters will come and pick it up after you're done with your perusals."
Ves hardly twitched when he heard that guards had been stationed just outside the hatch. "Got it. I'll be sure to make the most of my time."
When Professor Ventag left, Ves eagerly turned on the data pad. He studied the contents and saw that it contained a number of documents and recordings. The highly secured data pad contained a random collection of descriptive documents, training footage, after-action reports, actual combat footage and even a brief exposition of the individual expert mechs piloted by the expert pilot in question!
"So it's Venerable Rota Fontain!"
Most citizens of the Bright Republic could recite the names of at least fifty expert pilots at the top of their heads. The more well-educated among them could even repeat more than a hundred names.
Venerable Rota Fontain was not the foremost expert pilots in the service of the Mech Corps. However, as one of the few expert pilots who specialized in piloting space knights, he was not an obscure individual either.
The main reason why Ves recalled Venerable Fontain served with the 8th Spiral Shockers of the 3rd New Foundation Mech Division! He even heard rumors that Venerable Fontain was actually part of the reinforcements sent to accompany the triumphant Tovar Peace Delegation back to the Bright Republic!
"It would make sense that Professor Ventag has the most success in persuading the Spiral Shockers to make an exception to the rules."
Familiarity and good connections made everything easier. Ves did not enjoy a close relationship with the Spiral Shockers, but he was pretty familiar with the elite mech regiment. They were pretty stuck-up and didn't make friends very easily. Only a Senior Mech Designer connected to the Tovar Family like Professor Ventag commanded enough respect from them to loosen up their shoulders.
Ves figured this was the way the upper echelons routinely got things done. It was fine if they didn't possess a direct connection to the party they tried to gain favor from. They just needed to issue their request to a friend of the party in question who would do the heavy lifting.
The effectiveness of this method depended on the influence of his connections. In this perspective, getting close to the Tovar Family made a lot of sense as they were one of the most influential organizations in the Bright Republic!
Ves shook his head as he tried to rid himself of distractions. "Well, let's get back to Venerable Fontain. The contents of this data pad won't last forever."
He first browsed his heavily-redacted profile. The man was fifty-five years old and survived the previous war. In fact, he advanced to expert pilot shortly after enduring the ravages of that harrowing conflict.
Sadly, that was too late for Venerable Rota Fontain to contribute to the previous generation's war effort, but he made up for that in training intensely for the current war.
In fact, even if the majority of the Spiral Shockers were put on standby in the New Foundation System, small detachments were occasionally sent to perform special operations in occupied space. The majority of the redacted records were in fact related to these sensitive missions that Ves had no business knowing.
That unfortunately left him with little up-to-date combat footage.
"What a shame. I was looking forward to that."
The more Ves knew about venerable Fontain, the more substantial his image of the expert pilot in his mind became. Studying actual combat footage would help him a lot in visualizing how this space knight expert made use of the traits of his expert mechs.
When Ves browsed through the records even further, he came to the part where they described Venerable Fontain's three expert mechs.
All of them were closely based on standard medium space knights, especially the earlier iterations. Apparently, Venerable Fontain mostly stuck to the basics when he just advanced to become an expert pilot, but evolved his piloting style to incorporate new methods only accessible to mech pilots of his caliber.
It quickly became clear that Venerable Fontain prioritized balance between the mobility and defensive capabilities of his expert mechs.
"Neither too defensive or offensive in use. Due to the quality of their materials and the exquisiteness of their designs, Venerable Fontain's expert mechs are capable of fulfilling both roles at the same time!"
As long as someone invested enough money in a design, their traditional weaknesses didn't apply anymore. It was the same with Venerable Foster's hugely expensive Beliasius. While it was an offense-orient hero mech, all of the Rorach's Bone used in its construction turned it into one of the toughest and most resilient mechs that Ves had ever witnessed!
Many knight mechs would feel ashamed when they compared their defensive prowess to the defensive might of the Belisarius!
"It's a good thing that Venerable Foster lost that disgustingly extravagant mech." Ves smirked.
The succession of expert mechs led to a gradual evolution into facilitating a fighting style unique to Venerable Fontain.
Overall, his mechs fulfilled two separate roles. The first was to be a defensive bulwark against overwhelming opposition. Some of the special operations the Spiral Shockers engaged in called for a certain amount of discretion. They were limited in the amount of mechs and ships they could bring into enemy territory.
This unfortunately led to occasions where they found themselves trapped and vastly outnumbered by the enemy. In these cases, the role the Phovon, Venerable Fontain's current expert mech, provided was critical in facilitating their disengagement!
However, the second role the Phovon adopted was that of an unstoppable juggernaut. Its heavy mass and relatively powerful flight system enabled the Phovon to mimic a cavalry and accumulate a devastating amount of momentum!
When the Phovon unleashed all of that momentum in a single titanic impact with its shield held in front, practically nothing that stood in its way could survive intact!
Reading about the Phovon's offensive uses reminded Ves of a battering ram or a siege engine. Due to the low agility of the Phovon, Venerable Fontain mainly used this mode of attack to batter space stations of starships. Anything that was large and relatively deficient in agility became a prime target to Fontain's unstoppable charges!
Ves became inspired by the descriptions. "Is it possible to incorporate this kind of attack to my own space knight design?"