The Mech Touch Chapter 1071


1069 Allround Improvements


[Status]

Name: Ves Larkinson

Profession: Apprentice Mech Designer

Specializations: None

Design Points: 421,612

Attributes

Strength: 1.4

Dexterity: 1.0

Endurance: 2.0

Intelligence: 2.2

Creativity: 2.1

Concentration: 2.1

Spirituality: 0.8

Neural Aptitude: F

Skills

[Assembly]: Journeyman - [3D Printer Proficiency IV] [Assembler Proficiency IV]

[Battle Mechatronics]: Apprentice - [Knight Mech Mastery I] - [Rifleman Mech Mastery I]

[Business]: Apprentice

[Computer Science]: Apprentice - [Mech Hacking II]

[Electrical Engineering]: Journeyman - [Structural Pathway Configuration IV] - [Energy Storage IV] - [Conductors III] - [Ultracompact Energy Storage I]

[Materials Science]: Journeyman - [Crystallography II]  [Crystal Laser Propagation II]

[Mathematics]: Journeyman

[Mechanics]: Journeyman - [Jury Rigging IV] [Speed Tuning IV]

[Metallurgy]: Journeyman - [Alloy Compression III]

[Metaphysics]: Apprentice - [X-Factor IV] - [Spiritual Vision II] - [Spiritual Exploration I]

[Interfacing]: Novice

[Physics]: Senior - [Directed Energy Weapon Optimization III] [Gamma Laser Weapons I] [Lightweight Armor Optimization II] [Mediumweight Armor Optimization IV] [Melee Weapon Optimization IV] [Rapid-Fire Laser Weapon Operation II] [Optics III]

[Propulsion]: Incompetent - [Flight Systems I]

[Salvaging]: Apprentice - [Field Repairs III]

[Signals and Communications]: Journeyman - [Anti-Stealth Detection II]

[Stealth and Cloaking]: Novice

Abilities

[Superpublish]: Available. Can be activated once a year.

Evaluation: A post-human mech designer who has almost advanced to Journeyman.

"Over four-hundred thousand Design Points!" Ves uttered.

Was that a lot? Sure! Could he have done better? Certainly!

Ves could have earned a lot more DP if he continued to lead the company and expand its mech catalog.

By far the greatest source of DP over the past three years had been the steady sales of his Blackbeak models. The silver label edition proved to be a resilient seller and though the bronze label edition weren't being produced very much anymore, they still made a hefty contribution to his DP earnings.

"It's too bad my Crystal Lord isn't able to earn me any DP. I could have easily doubled my stash of DP if I hadn't Superpublished that design."

Even though he had already made peace with this tradeoff, he couldn't help but wince at the thought of how much DP slipped through his fingers.

Aside from his physical mech sales, his virtual mechs also sold a lot over the years. The only downside was that his most popular virtual training mechs such as the Old Soul and the Young Blood already reached the System's stingy DP earning limits. Ves could have easily earned twice or even thrice as much DP if not for those caps.


"Well, I'm long past the days where I need to depend on virtual mechs for practice." Ves muttered.

While it would only take him a couple of weeks to design a proper virtual mech, to Journeymen and upwards, it was generally considered to be a waste of time. They only had a finite amount of lifespan to spend on advancing to the rank of Senior, and no Journeyman ever got there by designing virtual mechs all the time.

However, even though designing virtual mechs wouldn't help him advance to Senior, it still served as a useful testing ground for some experimental concepts.

Ves could do a lot with four-hundred thousand DP. Perhaps the most extreme way to spend them all was if he dumped it all on bronze or silver lottery tickets.

"I'd be stupid if I waste all that money on your rip-off of a lottery draw." Ves muttered resentfully at the System.

It would be a different story if Ves had the option of purchasing golden lottery tickets and higher. Even though the chance of winning a prize with a golden lottery ticket was fairly low, he once scored a huge win when he obtained a copy of the Amastendira. This single prize alone had been worth all of the dangers he went through when he participated in the Glowing Planet campaign!

The best investment of his DP remained spending them on Skills and Sub-Skills. He sorely felt he needed to shore up his knowledge base now that he embarked on a complicated joint design project in collaboration with a Senior.

"I'll have to be prudent in my spending. I can't ignore the role that items play either."

His constant inadequacies regarding the gear he'd been issued made him realize how much of a role it played. Several times, Ves only hung on because he managed to retain possession of the Amastendira.

While it was a very good weapon, it couldn't help him out of every crisis. Now that he had left military service, he could finally pick and choose his own equipment.

"I still have some goodies in the vault." He smiled. "I'll have to pay a visit there to pick up my shield generator at the very least."

He didn't plan on retrieving his spoils from the Starlight Megalodon. It would be a bit too extreme to be walking around wearing the Squalon in his own headquarters.

After Ves got over the bounty of DP he earned, he turned his attention to the other changes in his Status. As he studied the rest of the list, he perceived overall improvement in many Attributes and Skills.

The change in his Attributes encompassed both his physical and mental aspects. All the genetic and corrective treatments he redeemed from the Starlight Megalodon boosted his body comprehensively.

"The System doesn't even list most of my recent gains in this area such as my extended lifespan."

His mental Attributes rose as well. Perhaps the most drastic change would be his Spirituality. For some reason, it rose by 0.4 points! Whether this meant his Spirituality increased in a linear or geometric fashion, Ves couldn't tell because he hadn't developed a good measuring stick for this ephemeral energy source.

Aside from his hugely improved Spirituality Attribute, his list of Skills showed huge jumps as well.

Ves distinctly noticed the addition of several new Sub-Skills which he hadn't redeemed any DP for in the Skill Tree.

"Sub-Skills such as Ultracompact Batteries I, Field Repairs III, Spiritual Vision II and Spiritual Exploration I weren't there the last time I checked my Status. I've also become a Novice in the field of Stealth and Cloaking."

In addition, many of his older Sub-Skills received some bumps in ranking, likely due to his stint as head designer when he served with the Flagrant Vandals. His proficiencies in working with 3D printers and assembly systems received a welcome boost, and that was just one of many improvements he made over the years.

The extensive amount of changes signified to Ves that he didn't have to rely on the System's Skill Tree to acquire or improve his Skills and Sub-Skills. He could always study on his own or learn from practice.

"Each method has its own merits."

Overall, his set of Skills already matched the repertoire of a seasoned Journeyman such as Kadar and Neyvis. In fact, he was grossly overqualified for an Apprentice.

Ves did not feel a strong urge to upgrade more of his main Skills to Senior as of yet. His Senior-level Physics Skill mainly introduced a huge bunch of esoteric knowledge in his mind which only became relevant in highly specialized applications. His main benefit from improving his Physics Skill was that he became more knowledgeable when it came to designing energy weapons.

"If I do upgrade a main Skill to Senior-level, I'll start with my Mechanics Skill first."

If he did so, he would have to complete an Upgrade Mission assigned by the System, which was a bit of a hassle.

Overall, Ves was pleased with his improvements over the years. Compared to when he last used the System, he was a lot more rounded and his utilization of his Skills had improved as well.

"Not everything is listed on my Status page." He reminded to himself. "Just because it's not on the list doesn't mean it isn't important."

Now that Ves satisfied his curiosity for the moment, he began to look at his comm more critically. While Lucky leisurely floated above his head, he wanted to address the System directly.

"Tell me." He began. "Are you the Metal Scroll?"

Silence. The System adopted its usual silent treatment in response to Ves' prodding questions.

Ves pressed his lips. "Come now. You managed to keep track of my design work while I was separated from you so you must be aware of what I've learned at the Starlight Megalodon. The 'so-called' Mech Designer System is just a facade of yours, right? Your true identity is the long-lost mythical Metal Scroll worshipped by the Five Scrolls Compact!"

[...]

"Really. I don't know why you keep up that dumb AI act, but it's not fooling me anymore. I've encountered a lot of AIs over the years, and you are definitely more sophisticated than you appear. All this time, I've been using you as a vending machine, never fully comprehending that you must have your own agenda as well. Now that I know the truth about your origins, isn't it time for you to come clean with me?"

[...]

Evidently, the System adamantly maintained its silence to the pressing queries. Perhaps it thought that Ves was too weak. Perhaps it had been programmed to keep shut on this topic.

Since Ves possessed no leverage on the System, he couldn't force it to talk. What could he do? Discard it into a black hole? It would probably teleport away and abandon Ves to find a new and more pliable user or something.

After a bit more fruitless questioning, Ves gave up. "Fine. Have it your way. I'll just continue to play along and design more mechs if that's what you want."

[A mech designer must never cease to design mechs.]

"Pff! Now you open up your mouth!"

After Ves set aside his questions concerning the System, he returned to the question of where he should spend his DP on. Those four-hundred thousand points didn't do anything to him as long as they remained unspent.

"First, I should set aside 100,000 DP again." He decided.

If he ever fell into trouble, which would certainly happen sooner or later considering his track record, he could draw upon this amount to redeem a powerful one-time tool or augment to help him survive.

That left a bit over 300,000 DP for him to spend wherever he wished. When Ves idly browsed the Skill Tree, he became astounded once again at the sheer variety of Skills and Sub-Skills the System offered.

However, not all of them were valued equally. Ves distinctly noticed that Sub-Skills related to high technology came with inflated DP costs along with hefty prerequisites!

For example, if Ves wanted to acquire Ultracompact Energy Storage II, he needed to fork over 2,000,000 DP to the System!

"What the hell?! How can you be so greedy, System!"

Just as it seemed that Ves was about to accelerate his DP earnings, the reality was that the truly valuable Sub-Skills still required a hefty amount of investment!

That 300,000 DP didn't seem to extravagant anymore. Ves felt like he was back in the days where he thought that earning a couple of thousand DP already made him wealthy.

"I'll just have to put my available points to the best possible use."

Right now, Ves already felt he lacked some essential Sub-Skills when it came to designing his upcoming super-medium space knight. His unfamiliarity with its weight class, flight system, polarizing module and more would definitely hamper him once he moved on to the next design phase.

"If I want to do my fatty mech design justice, I will need to shore up on my lack of design experience with spaceborn mechs."

Like many mech designers, Ves started his career with designing landbound mechs. While that was all well and good, he didn't feel confident in being able to incorporate a flight system effectively and efficiently in his upcoming design. He simply lacked too much experience in this area.

"I can take the time to study it myself, but it's much faster and more convenient if I upgrade my understanding of flight systems."

Aside from shoring up this essential point, Ves also couldn't forget about another option. He began to consider whether it would be worth it for him to invest a substantial amount of DP into acquiring Space Knight Mastery I.