The Mech Touch Chapter 1178
The visit to the depot left a deep impression to Ves. As a Brighter, he had mainly been exposed to the works of secular mech designers.
"The Bright Republic, the Vesia Kingdom, the Reinald Republic, the Friday Coalition and many parts of the frontier are all rooted in secular mech traditions." Ves explained to Ketis as they wandered through the dormant collection of Ylvainan mechs.
"What do you mean by that?" She asked.
"There is a very high emphasis among secular mech designers to prioritize function over form. Now, there's nothing wrong with that. A mech that performs better plainly enjoys more success. Most mech buyers don't care too much about how their mechs look like. At the very least, they aren't easily charmed by fancy-looking mechs if their specs are crap."
"A good looking trash mech will perform like garbage in battle."
"Exactly. Good aesthetics can enhance the desirability of a good mech design, but it can't salvage a bad mech design. These customs have led to a rather plain an utilitarian-focused design style. There's a tendency among mech designers in the states I've mentioned to design their mechs to look functional. If a mech looks capable in a fight, then they can appeal better to mech buyers who value this quality."
Ketis paused for a bit. "That sounds like a self-reinforcing mechanism. A mech with good specs will look like it performs well. A mech that looks capable is expected to perform at that level. What about your own designs, Ves? Many of your mech designs look like they belong in a museum or a mech show room rather than the battlefield."
"Humans love pretty things." He answered. "A mech with an appealing appearance doesn't necessarily have to be associated with bad performance. It's just that it's not always worth it from a practical level. All the cosmetic additions makes it harder for the mech technicians to service and repair the fancy-looking machines."
"It's still worth it for you."
"Right. The benefit to adding a unique appearance to my mechs is that they influence both their mech pilots and their opponents to their favor."
The mech pilots will feel better about their mechs and deliver a better performance.
Their opponents will be affected as well. They'll be distracted from analyzing the combat prowess of the mechs.
This was only the tip of the iceberg. A striking visual appearance helped the mech pilots of his product enter the right mood. The goal that Ves wanted to accomplish is to encourage his mech pilots to align their thoughts with the X-Factor of his mechs!
Maybe Calabast had no inkling of Ves was really capable of, but he really appreciated the opportunity to design a mech for Ylvainans this time. The qualities the Ylvainans demanded of their mechs meshed really well with his strengths!
The only issue that Ves faced was whether he could convey enough sincerity towards the Ylvainan Faith in his design process. As a foreigner and a non-believer, the mech market should largely be skeptical of his attempts to copy the Ylvainan design style.
Ketis didn't seem hopeful either. "If you try to copy their style, won't they accuse you of being a poser?"
"They haven't seen what I'm capable of yet. I think I can deliver a pleasant surprise to the Ylvainans if I have the time to design a fitting mech."
The key was to impart the sincerity of the Ylvainan Faith in his mech designs. As someone who couldn't bring himself to believe in any tenets of the faith, that should be a considerable challenge!
Calabast already foresaw the problem. Her solution was to see if Ves could work together with a local mech designer.
The idea had some merit, though Ves preferred exerting full creative control over the visual design of his mechs. Art was something deeply personal to him and he did not wish for other mech designers to interfere with the meaning he tried to convey through his works.
Nonetheless, Ves was willing to meet with the mech designers who were willing to work with a foreigner.
"Not many mech designers are willing to associate with a foreign mech designer." Leon admitted. "Currently, there is a heavy stigma against collaborating with non-believers on a mech design. It has taken Madame Cecily a lot of effort to invite some mech designers who are willing to blaze a trail. Some are still on their way to the Kesseling System. When they are all here, they will meet with you in secret so as to avoid attracting the attention of the Attendants of Ylvaine."
Ves understood the difficulties an Ylvainan mech designer faced if they proactively worked together with a non-believer. Even though the Curin Dynasty would likely do whatever they can to support these brave mech designers, the Poxco Dynasty would also do their best to make their lives difficult once their inclinations became known!
"I will do my best to see whether they are compatible with my design project, Leon. I'm only willing to involve a single Ylvainan mech designer. The project doesn't need more mech designers. Adding more will just add more confusion and will make it difficult to coordinate our efforts."
"Understood. We shall take your demands into account. Do you have any other questions?"
"Can you tell me what the mech designers are like?"
"They are largely young and less dogmatic. They strongly support the reform cause and are willing to stick their necks out as long as we provide enough incentives."
"That didn't sound very good to Ves. A suspicion crept up. "What are their ranks?"
"All five of the mech designers we've invited are Apprentices. We have rejected the application of Novices no matter how enthusiastic they are. While we've attempted to invite several open-minded Journeymen, they have all rejected the offer."
"I see. These Apprentices.. none of them should have solid backing, right?"
Leon smiled sheepishly at Ves, as if he had been caught out. "The Ylvaine Protectorate is a little more stringent in the amount of people who are allowed to study mech design. The independent Apprentices who have enjoyed a measure of success up to this point are all capable mech designers. Nonetheless, the Ylvainan mech market has been stagnant for a very long time, giving the smaller players very little room to grow and develop."
Ves understood what was going on here. The Apprentices who were desperate to accept an opportunity to collaborate with a foreign Journeyman must be desperate for guidance.
Even though he was just a de facto Journeyman who advanced very recently, this status still elevated him far above the Apprentices. Any advice or help he could provide over the course of the design project would be invaluable to their own progression!
He figured that Calabast must have her own considerations for pushing these mech designers forward. Perhaps she wanted to nurture some mech designers in her camp in order to strengthen her grip on the Protectorate's mech market.
Whatever the case, Ves was open to teaching an Ylvainan some tricks as long as they went along well with each other.
He had already mentored a pirate designer, so what was the harm in providing some guidance to an Ylvainan? It was not as if Ves was teaching some valuable lessons to a Vesian mech designer!
"There's more to inviting the Apprentices, right?" Ves asked. Calabast would never do something simple! "For these mech designers to step up and become a target to every Attendant of Ylvaine out there is a pretty heavy price to pay."
"That is true. The truth is that Madame Cecily is hoping that your initial collaboration with one of our local mech designers will spark something more. I believe that Madame Cecily wishes to reveal the full details of her plan in person."
"I will look forward to hear what she has to say." Ves said mildly.
His initial talk with Calabast mainly dealt with him getting around to accepting it. They hadn't gone over a lot of concrete details and plans for the short, medium and long term as of yet. Ves needed more time to accept the new circumstances before he was ready to think ahead.
That night, Ves had an opportunity to meet Calabast again.
Vs left Lucky and everyone else behind at the guarded compound that Ylvainans provided to them as their temporary home on Kesseling VIII. While Leland quietly exited the compound and disappeared into Krent for some reason or another, Ves took a brief shuttle ride to the headquarters of the Office of Strategic Mech Management.
There, the staff guided him to a lavish, isolated dining room. Ves immediately felt the interference in the air as Calabast already activated a signal jammer ahead of time.
No one else except Ves and Calabast dined in the room. As each of them partook in the dishes that had already been delivered to their table, Ves brought up something important.
"How is our new partnership supposed to work?"
"What do you mean by that, Ves?"
"I can see how we can help each other out in the short term. You work on opening up the Protectorate for the LMC while I help boost your position in the Protectorate's power structure. That's simple enough for me to figure out. My question is what happens afterwards?"
Calabast sighed and paused in cutting her steak. "It is already a strenuous effort for me to assist the LMC in strengthening its position in the Protectorate. In ten or twenty years, I hope your company becomes one of the most prominent mech companies led by a Journeyman in the Protectorate. While designing really good mechs goes a long way into strengthening the LMC's market position, if you want to make your gains permanent, you need a permanent presence within our borders."
Ves frowned at that. "What does this permanent presence entail?"
"What I have in mind is a joint venture between the LMC and one of my holding companies. Both of us would invest an equal amount of money into a subsidiary that is equally owned by both companies. All the mechs designed by you and sold by the LMC will go through this subsidiary before they are sold on the Protectorate's mech market!"
A joint venture! Setting something like that up between him and Calabast was not a small decision! It required a lot of thought and consideration!
"I need to think over it." Ves guardedly replied. "A joint venture is hard to do right and easy to screw up. Why do you want a joint venture anyway?"
"It's easier to expand the presence of the LMC if it comes in an incarnation that is half-owned by an Ylvainan. As long as you can present a local face to your business activities, the opposition to working with the LMC is much less severe. It's an ugly fact that many Ylvainans still won't be able to accept a mech designed by a foreigner."
Ves tentatively nodded. "I agree with that logic. A joint venture for the purpose of making my designs more appealing to the local market can help a lot in that regard. The main problem I have with this suggestion is where you will be taking it. Both of us will own the joint venture. While you say that you are willing to split our control of the entity, are you planning to do something more?"
"Heh. You know me too well, Ves." Calabast smirked. "The LMC is very much your company, and I have no intentions of meddling with your business. However, a woman like me has needs. While I've brought along a considerable amount of seed money to fund my initial ventures in my new position, that pool will run out eventually. If I want to set up a comprehensive network of informers and assist you in your endeavors, then I need a considerable stream of income."
"Ah. So it's about money."
"Yep. I'll be happy with half of the earnings the LMC makes in the Ylvaine Protectorate. After all, I've been working hard to facilitate your business in this state. Don't you think I deserve some remuneration from my services."
While Ves agreed with that sentiment, why did he feel like he was facing a money-draining vampire?