The Mech Touch Chapter 1072
1070 Inflated Prices
Mastery provided Ves with a first-hand perspective on how mech pilots handled a specific mech type. It was immensely valuable and he considered it worth its hefty price tag.
Even so, Ves already possessed a Mastery in landbound knight mechs. Would he really be able to gain as much benefits when he acquired a Mastery in its spaceborn version?
After some contemplation, he decided to add Space Knight Mastery I to his list.
"Spaceborn mechs are vastly different from landbound mechs. The three-dimensional aspect of moving and fighting in space as well as concerns about vacuum, inertia, momentum, flight, heat management and more add a lot more complexities to the equation."
In general, mech pilots found it harder to pilot spaceborn mechs. The barrier to entry may be higher, but they were paid a bit better than their landbound colleagues.
All of these added complexities made piloting spaceborn mechs incomparable to piloting landbound mechs. Ves saw a lot of merit in acquiring the relevant Mastery, even if it wouldn't be in the right weight class.
[Space Knight Mastery I]: 40,000 DP
"Next up is to improve my understanding of flight systems."
This entailed upgrading the Propulsion Skill and the generic Flight System I Sub-Skill.
The former encompassed many ways to move mechs aside from using legs. It encompassed a broad understanding of flight in the air and in space. It also included some fundamental understanding on water-jet propulsion used by aquatic mechs.
"Let's just skip the years of learning and bump it straight up into Journeyman territory. I'll improve my expertise on flight systems specifically while I'm at it."
[Propulsion - Novice]: 5,000 DP
[Propulsion - Apprentice]: 10,000 DP
[Propulsion - Journeyman]: 20,000 DP
[Flight Systems II]: 2,500 DP
[Flight Systems III]: 5,000 DP
[Flight Systems IV]: 10,000 DP
Ves could already feel the System rubbing its greedy non-existent hands as he added more Skills to the shopping cart. Even though it seemed somewhat luxurious for him to spend this much DP just on the flight system alone, he considered it essential for him to match the competence of a mech designer specialized in spaceborn mechs.
Only a few minutes went by and Ves already planned to dump 92,500 DP onto various Skills and Sub-Skills!
"That's almost a third of my DP budget gone!"
Nonetheless, these new additions solved his most critical inadequacies when it came to designing his super-medium space knight. With a Mastery and a vastly improved understanding of flight systems, he didn't fear the prospects of mistakes any longer. Not only that, he would also be able to incorporate various aspects unique to spaceborn mechs a lot better into other areas of his design.
Many laymen had the mistaken impression that spaceborn mechs were actually landbound mechs with flight systems slapped onto their backs. That was a gross simplification of the truth, as the lack of gravity and air in space led to a much greater divergence in design standards.
Ves learned many of these rules when he came into touch with many spaceborn mechs as a head designer. However, repairing spaceborn mechs was one thing. Designing them from scratch was an entirely different thing.
"The last mistake I can make in this design project is to underestimate the challenges of designing a spaceborn mech!"
After some more thought, he added a Sub-Skill related to polarizing modules to his list. This would not only enable him to understand the working principles of this piece of technology, but also be able to tinker with it and adjust its parameters.
[Polarizing Shielding I]: 20,000 DP
[Polarizing Shielding II]: 40,000 DP
Unfortunately, the System regarded polarizing technology as something advanced, so it jacked up the prices for understanding it by a corresponding proportion.
For a while, Ves questioned whether he was spending his DP wisely. Polarizing technology did not see much use in the Bright Republic. The modules took up way too much space to be applicable to anything but heavy mechs.
However, the tech was a bit more ubiquitous among second-class mechs such as those circulating in the Friday Coalition. It was possible to miniaturize the polarizing modules so that it became practical for them to be implemented in medium mechs as long as expensive exotics took over the role of regular materials.
Ves could bear the price for Polarizing Shielding I. Yet he wasn't satisfied with understanding the bare essentials. He wanted to tweak the polarizing module and tailor it to his upcoming design. That required a lot more understanding, and to meet that need he would have to get Polarizing Shielding II.
"It's still a hefty price to pay just to improve a single mech design a little better."
He decided to bite the bullet and add the second tier of this line of Sub-Skills to his shopping cart. He rationalized it as an investment. In order to earn more DP, he needed to spend more DP.
"If I invest 60,000 DP into this Sub-Skill so that I can bump the quality of my space knight design to another level, the extra sales I get in return might pay back my investment in spades."
His fatty mech design would definitely be a niche product that lacked the slightly wider appeal of his other two commercial mech designs. Since the target segment of his space knight would be those who specialized in piloting space knight, Ves needed to offer them a product with excellent performance.
The polarizing module was the key gimmick of his space knight design. Being able to implement it proficiently and without introducing flaws or vulnerabilities would make or break his product!
"Alright, that's almost half of my DP budget gone."
Ves couldn't help but grumble about the System's inflated prices. Even though he agreed that it was only fair that the System charged more for rarer and more exclusive Skills and Sub-Skills, as a consumer he couldn't help but feel as if he was being ripped off.
Still, this led Ves to an important question. "What is DP anyway?"
The System presented him with Design Points as its internal currency which Ves could redeem for various goodies. All this time, he regarded DP in a similar fashion to merits used in many organizations such as the Clifford Society and the CFA.
The concept behind merits was simple. Merits represented actual contribution earned by individuals. It was not money that could be traded or given away freely. Thereby, organizations were able to level the field for the less affluent.
If the poor worked harder than the rich, then they ought to be rewarded for their earnestness. Issuing merits was a way of recognizing their individual hard work. As for useless rich fops, they may be able to buy their way into their positions, but if they wanted to get further, they couldn't solely rely on their wealth and connections to get them ahead.
Ves equated Design Points akin to merits because that was how the System operated on the surface. Yet now that he adopted a more critical mindset, he couldn't help but ask what Design Points actually represented?
"How do Design Points benefit the System?" He openly asked.
This was a very important question. For example, the Groening Mission that Ves participated in allowed him to earn a generous amount of merits from the Clifford Society.
The Society did not hand over these merits for free, but rather gained a substantial commission from House Kaine.
House Kaine in turn gave the Society some concessions in return for Ves' service.
"Everyone gets something of value, whether it's money, merits or services. Nobody loses out in this transaction."
The question that Ves had right now was how the System could possibly benefit from incentivizing Ves with Design Points. Ves did not believe that this was just a fictional currency programmed into the System in order to incentivize good mech design.
"Even the System must pay some sort of price whenever it injects a Skill into my mind or materializes a new item."
However, aside from providing the System with some exceedingly rare materials, Ves mostly earned the System's appreciation by designing mechs.
"It all comes down to designing mechs. Why mechs? What's so special about them? For the supposedly mythical Metal Scrolls which contains knowledge on how to design the armament of the gods, you sure possess a one-track mind, System."
Well, Ves couldn't blame the System for being brain-damaged. If the stories he heard were correct, then the Metal Scroll had been inadvertently destroyed during a secret power struggle.
Even if it managed to recover, it obviously only regained a fraction of its former might. Maybe the Metal Scroll itself might even have been fractured into several pieces, each encompassing a single domain of weapons!
That was a frightening thought. What if there was a System out there for designing infantry equipment or starships?
Ves shook his head. Even if other fragments of the Metal Scroll existed somewhere across the galaxy, it had nothing to do with him. He was already content with the System's narrow focus on mechs. To a mech designer, that mattered the most.
In the end, Ves could speculate all he wanted but he didn't come any closer to a solid answer.
"The System rewards me with DP whenever I design a mech or sell a mech. The amount of DP it rewards me varies according to the results I've achieved. Higher quality designs are worth a lot more DP than crappy designs. I also earn more DP from sales when my mechs are more expensive and are bought in higher volumes."
These specific patterns led Ves to believe they corresponded with the core activities of a mech designer. If Ves tried to maximize his DP earnings, then his actions and behavior would conform to mech designers who continued to progress and advance.
Simply said, the System wanted him to keep advancing!
Ves couldn't help but send a suspicious glance to his comm. Why did the System want him to advance so badly? Did it want something in return from Ves once he advanced to Master or something? That might be a very real possibility.
If Ves believed the Mech Designer System was just a simple piece of amazing software meant to help a mech designer without any further expectations, then he would be truly naive.
The System first put him on the path to specializing in Spirituality. The System also seemed to have a vested interest in helping him progress his mech designer career.
It was as if the System was feeding a pig to the slaughter!
Ves couldn't get rid of his paranoia. From all the secrets he learned during his military service, he stopped believing in altruism. Nobody did anything for free or without a reason. Individuals always aimed to secure benefits for themselves, and Ves bet that the System was no exception to this rule.
When Ves came back to the question where the System gained the energy or resources to do its magic, he threw out a guess. "Design Points are just standing in for something else, maybe."
Perhaps the act of creation and the act of propagation those creations injected the System with some sort of unknown energy that sustained its operation.
"Could it be spiritual energy?"
Out of all the options, spiritual energy seemed to fit the bill. However, there was no use speculating any further on this topic because Ves would never be able to force an answer out of the System at his current state.
Ves threw a scheming glance at his comm. "Someday, I'll force some answers out of you. It might take years, decades or centuries, but I have a long lifespan and plan to extend it even further. I have all the time in the galaxy to find out what you are and how my parents got involved."
After setting aside his suspicions, he turned his attention back to improving his knowledge base. He inspected his shopping cart several times before he decided that this was enough to put him on the right track. If he ever felt he lacked some expertise, he could always come back another time.
"I don't think I'll be separated from the System ever again for a very long time."