The Mech Touch Chapter 1171
1169 Staying True
Ves leisurely held Lucky in his grasp as he exited his stateroom on the Barracuda for the first time in more than a week. He entered the lounge of his private yacht and met Gavin and Ketis.
"Ves!" Ketis called with evident surprise. "You're finally out of your cave! I thought you were starting to forget yourself or something."
"Hero mechs are very interesting. Can you blame a mech designer for getting enthralled by their existence?"
Lucky jumped out of his grasp and moved over to Ketis in a cute manner. The cat wanted to be spoiled!
As Ketis played with Lucky, Ves moved over to sit next to Gavin.
"How's the company, Benny?"
His assistant furrowed his brows. "Uh, is your memory okay? My name is Gavin, not Benny."
"I know. Starting from now, I'll call you Benny, though."
"Are you sure you haven't been up something this past week? Have you been taking stimulants or something?"
"NO!" Ves avidly denied. "Pff! I'll never become an addict!"
After experiencing the torment of Axelar's previous life, Ves vehemently rejected such an unfulfilling lifestyle!
"Then why call me Benny?"
"Just consider it as a private joke."
An awkward silence fell between them. After a while, Gavin accepted that he would just have to deal with it like he did with his employer's other eccentricities. Ves was beginning to grow weirder and weirder every day as he slowly shed his mediocrity!
"The LMC is doing well for now." Gavin began to report. "The sales of the bronze and silver label Aurora Titan models have peaked. While it benefited from a considerable amount of hype and publicity due to the sensational events that happened during its product reveal, not a lot of mech buyers actually need a super-expensive mech that is sold for at least 100 million credits."
Ves nodded in understanding. "I've always positioned the Aurora Titan as an upscale mech. Collecting over a thousand orders for our new mech model in the first week of its release already exceeds our expectations."
"Now that the initial hype is starting to fade, we don't expect the Aurora Titan to do well in the following months. There are two reasons for that. First, the 'independent' reviews for your mech design is not very flattering. Second, while the Aurora Titan itself gained a lot of positive publicity in the media, it is tainted by its association to you. Ves… please do me a favor. Don't look up your name."
"What is the media saying about me? Nothing too bad, I hope?"
"It's complicated. You've become a very polarizing figure in the mech community." Gavin admitted. "Within some government and military circles, you've earned their support. Within the vast AUMD alumni network and some parts of the mech industry, you are everything they don't want to see in a mech designer!"
This was the price Ves paid for denigrating a Senior Mech Designer in public. Seniors should always enjoy the respect of their lessers in the profession! Ves not only broke this custom, but he stepped on it until it became a flattened mess!
"What's your take on it, Benny? Is my personal reputation tarnished?"
Gavin shrugged. "The news cycle is very short. After a month, most of the public will forget about it. However, the mech industry doesn't forget as fast. You've acquired the reputation of a brave but combative and impulsive mech designer. Some people might like that, but other people are questioning whether the mechs you've designed are sound."
The conduct of the lead designer always affected the perception of the products they designed. If Ves gained a smelly reputation, then all of his mech designs acquired the same stench!
However, Ves recognized that this relationship went both ways. As long as the designs he published were all excellent mechs, he could rehabilitate his reputation as a mech designer!
Regardless of his personal quirks, as long as a mech designer possessed the ability to design good mechs, then the mech market could forgive every transgression!
"I'm a de facto Journeyman." Ves stated. "Becoming an official Journeyman is just around the corner. That should count for something, right?"
"It's true that it's better to be a controversial Journeyman than an Apprentice. You're still young and the mech market hasn't seen enough of your work to form a solid opinion. You still have room to change public perception."
"Do the best you can, but I'm not going to change myself. I am happy with who I am and I have no plans to change myself."
"Is that wise?"
"I'm confident in my mech designs. No matter how awful the media portrays me, they can't beat my work!"
If he was still a Novice or an Apprentice, then he would have cared a lot more about his personal reputation. Now that he advanced to a Journeyman, he no longer worried about selling too little mechs.
As a Journeyman, each of his mech designs were viable products! The only way they designed a bad mech was if they faced too many limitations or deliberately wanted to troll their clients.
The first mech he designed after becoming a de facto Journeyman was a case in point. Even though Ves depended heavily on an auto designer to rush the design of the Ouroboros, his hero mech still fared well against a mech designed for professional mech duels!
Rather than pay too much attention to something as ephemeral as reputation that blew from one direction to the next, Ves would rather stay true to himself. How could he design a great mech if he wasn't comfortable in his own skin?
When he designed the Ouroboros, Ves already observed something remarkable about his connection to his design seed. With his spiritual senses, he kept track of how it fluctuated based on his mood.
He tentatively determined that his connection to his design seed strengthened and weakened according to how close he conformed to the personality traits it absorbed during its formation!
He concluded that Journeyman Mech Designers stopped staying true to their old selves benefited less from their design seeds!
Ves wondered if this interaction still played out when a mech designer gradually grew older and more mature. Change was inevitable. No human retained the same personality over decades.
Did that mean that older mech designers found it increasingly more difficult to advance because their personality and their attitudes naturally shifted over time?
It was an interesting hypothesis that Ves would have to test out for himself. Perhaps the MTA already knew of this relationship. It would explain why so many high-ranking mech designers didn't hide their eccentricities.
Ves and Gavin continued to discuss some other matters that emerged during the week.
"Calsie informed me that the Larkinsons are planning to change some of their customs." Gavin noted.
"What is my family up to now?"
"You've become an increasingly more important figure to the family. You're already being regarded as one of their leaders, you know. Calsie heard from your grandfather Benjamin that the Larkinsons plan to erect a new family compound on Cloudy Curtain!"
"They want to expose more Larkinsons to your branch of the family. Many Larkinson mech pilots dream of joining the Avatars of Myth. The norms among the Larkinsons want to build up a career in your growing company. From what I've heard, the Larkinson Family is pretty insistent on playing a greater role in your network."
Ves always knew the Larkinsons were casting greedy eyes on him and his company, but for them to decide such a matter while he just left for the Ylvaine Protectorate was very rude!
He already made his opinion of involving the family in his matters known to his grandfather! Benjamin and the other Larkinson elders should have known better to butt their heads into his business!
"I'll go call my grandfather later and hear what he has to say." Ves sighed.
He knew it would be hard for him to reverse a decision like this because his grandfather always acted decisively. It was hard to say no to family!
From the skeptical look that Gavin directed towards his boss, he didn't have much hope that Ves would get his way!
"Anyway, during our journey, we maintained regular contact with the Ylvaine Protectorate. Madame Cecily Curin's staff helped us complete the last bureaucratic arrangements that allows us to enter, stay and work in the Protectorate."
Visiting a closed state like the Ylvaine Protectorate was a lot harder than entering an open state like the Reinald Republic.
The Reinaldans welcomed almost everyone, including outright pirates, as long as they brought money!
The Ylvainans on the other hand rigorously patrolled the borders of their state. While border patrol in space was full of holes and empty space, every starship needed to pass through a star system if they wanted to sneak into the Protectorate. The Protectors of the Faith became very proficient at catching lawbreakers who avoided the very restrictive visa application process.
Still, someone as powerful as Madame Cecily shouldn't have any problems inviting a foreign mech designer to work on her commission. Her directorship wasn't for show!
"Do you have more details on the commission, Benny? What I've read so far isn't very explicit in its details."
Gavin shrugged. "The client wanted to keep the details close to her chest. She'll only explain her full demands to you in person once you arrive at Kesseling VIII."
"Surely you did some research on your own, right?"
"Who do you think I am?" Gavin grinned. "I managed to dig up a couple of more details. First, while Madame Cecily is a member of the Curin Dynasty, her bodyguard mech pilots are predominantly members of the Kronon Dynasty."
Ves frowned. "Why doesn't the Curin Dynasty provide their own bodyguards for their own officials?"
"The Kronons are the Protectors of the Faith. They hold a monopoly on military power. They take it upon themselves to protect every member of the three leading dynasties, not just their own."
"Does the client trust her own bodyguards?"
It would be very difficult for Ves to design suitable hero mechs for mech pilots that the client didn't want to empower.
"I'm not into Ylvainan politics, so I can't say, but the Kronons are very serious about their duty and responsibilities. Many Kronons are known as warrior monks. They value their integrity and their faith. Besides, the more progressive members of the Kronon Dynasty are in favor of reform."
That last remark was the one that really mattered. Warrior monks or not, Ves never put too much stock in someone else's integrity unless he met them in person.
"Do you have any details about her bodyguards?"
"Not much. No one pays much attention to bodyguards."
The client hadn't revealed a lot of details to Ves. If not for certain guarantees added into the initial contract, Ves wouldn't be so ready to travel to the Protectorate.
Once Gavin finished bringing up everything he needed to hear, Ves dismissed his assistant and walked up to Ketis and Lucky.
While the cat enjoyed his pampering, Ketis looked up to Ves. "Hey."
"Are you looking forward to this trip?"
"Not really." She replied. "You're just going to lock yourself up again to design your next mech, right? I appreciate that you've given me a chance to be involved in the design of the Aurora Titan, but I don't really see a lot of my work in the final version of the design."
"Ah, I know I've been a bit unfair to you, Ketis." Ves apologised. "I'll make sure to pay more attention to your involvement in our next design project. However, your contribution ultimately depends on whether you are able to perform up to standard."
"I know. You're not the only mech designer who constantly improves! Just give me a chance and I'll prove myself to you! I'm tired of being relegated to the side this time!"
While Ves did not expect very much from Ketis, it didn't hurt to see what she was capable of. He could sense her motivation and he wanted to encourage her drive to learn and improve herself.
Validating her passion was essential if Ves wanted to nurture her in a useful assistant in his design projects!