The Mech Touch Chapter 1331


1329 Bootstraps


"You called me! I'm so happy!" Gloriana gushed while pressing her slender palms against her chin. "I thought so long and hard about calling you, but you said you needed space so I refrained from calling you! If I knew you'd call me, I would have worn something cuter! Hey, I might as well do that now!"

She inputted a quick series of commands in her comm, causing her tight white lab coat to morph into an even slimmer sundress that tantalizingly showed a hint of promise.

"There! I can greet you properly now!"

"You didn't have to go through that trouble for me. I just wanted to talk to you about something."

"Nonsense! I will always present my best side to you! The perfect boyfriend deserves nothing less than the perfect girlfriend!"

As Ves awkwardly greeted Gloriana, Lucky padded over to the projection of Clixie.

Both cats pawed each other's bodies, only to go right through the intangible projections on their end.

They couldn't touch each other!

"Meooow."

"Miaow!"

Ignoring the distress of their pets, the pair of humans tentatively made themselves comfortable and sat down. The closeness of their respective projections gave them the illusion that they sat right next to each other.

"So, what did you want to talk about with little old me?" Gloriana smiled coyly while twirling around her lustrous dark hair. "Have you made up your mind already?"

"About what?"

"About tying the knot! Hihihi!"

"That's way too soon!" Ves hastily said. "I was hoping to raise a decision I've made recently. Although it sounds drastic, I think it's the best choice for me to develop."

Gloriana restrained herself upon seeing that Ves looked serious this time. "Oh? What did your clever mind come up with this time?"

Here goes nothing. Ves took a deep breath before starting with the spiel he prepared.

"If you recall my design philosophy, then you will note how it isn't tied to mechs, but rather the interaction between mechs and humans. Studying mechs is easy. Studying humans is harder. Through my travels, I've realized that I improve significantly faster if I come across many different people and become exposed to different cultures, values and beliefs. For example, if I hadn't visited the Ylvaine Protectorate, I would have never designed a fantastic custom mech like the Transcendent Messenger!"

Her eyes lit up. "I see! In my opinion, Your Transcendent Messengers are your best works! All six of them are fantastic in their own way, but together they make for a great set! You're already halfway to becoming a follower of hexism at this rate!"

"Let's not talk about that." Ves briefly grimaced.

"Awww.."

Producing six Transcendent Messengers was a complete coincidence! He was just fulfilling Calabast's commission! Besides, the True Believers managed to abscond with his prototype, thereby technically raising the amount of copies in the wild to seven!


"The nature of my design philosophy means I benefit a lot more from exploring different cultures." He continued. "Mechs may operate the same way regardless of where they are used, but the people who make use of them are vastly different from state to state, star sector to star sector, star cluster to star cluster. How can I ever design mechs that appeal to large swathes of human space if I only limit myself to a single star sector?"

"Is that why you are traveling around right now?"

"Yeah. I've already harvested some minor gains from visiting Centerpoint, Kamon and Kinner." He nodded. His travels were no secret to Gloriana. She probably ordered a hacker to lift the logs from the Barracuda a long time ago. "Yet even though the Komodo Star Sector offers a lot of diversity, many of the cultures here used to be formed by historical fringe groups. It's very dangerous to assume the rest of human space is the same."

Some of what he said was true, but he also added in some exaggerations here and there to strengthen his case.

A hum emanated from Gloriana's mouth as she contemplated his words. "I can see how that's important to you. The mech pilots who use your mechs are all distinct from each other. My own specialty also explores the fit between mech and mech pilot. We're closely alike in this regard, hihi!"

He smiled. It seemed his argument managed to resonate with Gloriana. "Humans are different. Their needs are different. Exploring a multitude of different norms and values broadens my perspective and allows me to express my design philosophy in different ways. For this reason I've been contemplating something drastic, but extremely helpful to my development."

"You're building up to something. I can tell. Just tell me, Ves."

He decided to cut to the chase. "It's this.. While the Komodo Star Sector is both my home and my base of operations, I don't think I'll progress very fast if I remain cooped up inside this frontier star sector. I'm looking to move to a more developed star sector in an entirely different cluster. Vicious Mountain and Majestic Teal are both great destinations, but they're too close to home for me to experience something truly novel."

A silence fell in their conversation. Though their pets continued to meow at each other in the background, Gloriana paused for a moment.

"Journeymen can achieve great harvests when they travel, though they will have to set the right goals and choose the right destinations. Where do you intend to go and how long will you be away?"

"I haven't decided on my destination yet. I'll probably choose between one of the adjacent star clusters next to our own. As for the duration I don't plan to take a brief vacation. I want to immerse myself in foreign cultures, and that means spending a long time abroad. Preferably, I'd like to adopt the nomadic spaceborn lifestyle and base myself on a fleet for a time. That will allow me to experience the most cultures with the least amount of disruption during the decades while I'm away from home."

Making a fleet his principal base of operations during his travels also made him elusive and hard to pin down. He wanted to be ready to move at any moment in case the Five Scrolls Compact or some other threat wanted to sniff him out.

"Decades? Did I hear you wrong?"

"I'm very serious." Ves said gravely. "I know it's unusual for Journeymen to travel this much, but if you've studied my designs, you know that they possess unusual strength. The strength that my mechs relies upon.. will continue to hold regardless of how far I travel."

He couldn't be too direct with his explanation. The MTA prohibited him from talking about psionics, even to fellow mech designers. The two of them might be cleared for the information, but the people that eavesdropped on their conversations may not be authorized!

Ves also wanted to avoid revealing his insights on spirituality. While he fancied Gloriana to some extent, it was far too premature to reveal his secrets to her. Only when their relationship became more solid would he be willing to open himself up to his partner.

Still, the implications of what he said already dawned upon Gloriana. "Will this effect extend to my own design philosophy as well if we collaborate on a design?"

"I'm reasonably confident it will."

He already thought about what would happen. With the way the Aurora Titanhis first collaboration work with another contributing designershaped up, Ves was certain that Qilanxo's spiritual fragment possessed more than enough juice to sustain its full strength even if Ves and Professor Ventag were gone.

As long as the design spirits continued existing, Ves may have already reached the most elusive goals of mech design, which was to achieve permanency in his designs!

While he didn't tell her about this impactful hypothesis, the claims he already revealed were more than enough to keep Gloriana occupied.

Shortly after he answered her question, she burst out into smiles. "Okay!"

"Okay what?"

"I'll accompany you! It'll be so romantic! Two loving mech designers touring the galaxy while exploring new ways to apply our design philosophies! It will be an unforgettable phase in our lives!"

"You.. you're okay with my intentions?"

"Sure!" She happily chirped. "I love you, you know that? I'll support you anyway I can. It's not like I have to pay a huge price to leave my home for a time. I'll miss my parents, but I'm sure I can get them to support our decision. It'll be so perfect! You and me, together on a cozy ship for years upon years upon years upon years upon"

"Okay, okay, I get it, Gloriana!" Ves interrupted her before she continued with her infinite loop. "I'm very glad you're okay with this. I don't plan to depart immediately. I'll have to make a lot of preparations, and I also have to make sure my enterprises in the star sector are capable of operating on their own."

His girlfriend vigorously nodded. "I'll pitch in! Let me take care of the fleet! I've just got a great idea! Why not let me arrange for a factory ship? That way, we can design and fabricate mechs on the go! It'll be perfect!"

The sheer enthusiasm and support from Gloriana overwhelmed Ves. He thought he faced an uphill battle in trying to persuade her to go along with his harebrained idea. Yet her adoration towards him made her much more pliable than he thought!

If there was one benefit to having an obsessive girlfriend, it was that Ves could get away with a lot more from his partner than usual!

Naturally, Ves was not naive enough to overlook that Gloriana had her own intentions. Her coy and devious smile she hid behind her fists as she squirmed on her seat already signalled to him that she was already developing her own plans for the upcoming journey!

Whatever she had in store, it was fine as long as she agreed to accompany him. Her status and wealth allowed her to obtain much better assets than he could ever obtain in the next ten years!

Ves briefly had the illusion that Gloriana was his sugar mommy. The disparity between their wealth and status effectively relegated him to a parasite who depended on his rich and powerful girlfriend to get the toys he wanted.

Yet so what? Though it stung his pride to depend upon his girlfriend, his life and freedom were far more precious than his worthless feelings!

With the Five Scrolls Compact presence in the local star cluster about to receive a massive boost from their brethren from the galactic center, Ves did not have the luxury to pull himself up by the bootstraps and build up a formidable caravan fleet by himself!

If Gloriana put her much greater financial strength to use in pulling up his bootstraps on his behalf, then by all means Ves was more than willing to play along!

As a man, he still felt bad for depending so much on a girl. Even if it was the most rational decision to make, he still disliked being the weaker partner of their relationship.

"Thank you, Gloriana. I know that my demands may have been a bit excessive, but I truly need this if I want to increase my hopes of advancing to Senior or Master within my lifetime."

His sincerity touched her deeply. She offered him a lovely smile.

"It's alright, Ves. No matter what kind of schemes you hatch, I'll always be there to support you. That's what girlfriends are for. You don't have to bear the weight of the galaxy on your shoulders by yourself. I'll always be there to take over the burden!"

Wasn't that what men were supposed to say to their women? Ves brushed aside his confusion.

"Since you're onboard with my plan, let me explain the details."

He began to elaborate on the decisions he made. Setting up this endeavor wouldn't be easy to Ves, but if Gloriana offered her own assistance, they could accomplish a great deal more!

Though Ves felt a little guilty for misleading Gloriana by withholding the true reason for this journey, he didn't think it was a big deal. Both of them stood to gain a lot of benefits from their travels, so that ought to be enough to justify his omissions.