The Mech Touch Chapter 1345
1343 Damn Backdoors
With the fleet's arrival to the Chuko Republic imminent, Ves decided to devote the remainder of his time on his current design project.
Ever since his recent enlightenment, his perspective on mech design and in particular his design philosophy had changed.
He developed the inkling of a theoretical framework to place his work into a more understandable context.
"Each mech I've designed up until now sits squarely between the path of determinism and the path of life." He observed while steepling his fingers above his desk.
Like any other mech designer, he started walking the path of determinism. Yet as soon as he developed his design philosophy, he started shuffling away from the path of determinism and approached the path of life.
This shift in direction happened very gradually when Ves mostly worked with his self-created images.
That changed one day when his mother showed him a new facet of spirituality.
By gifting him with the spiritual fragment of the long-dead crystal builder leader, Ves veered sharply towards the path of life.
Ever since then, he had been moving further away from the path of determinism in order to refine his usage of spiritual fragments.
Right now, Ves believed there was much more he could gain by exploring this direction further. He just had to make sure he didn't commit too much and lose sight of his vocation.
"Whatever I do, I should always remember that I'm a mech designer. Everything I do is meant to improve my mech designs."
He wanted to utilize his new insights and put them to the test. He wanted to explore what the path of life had to offer.
He theorized that it may be possible to utilize the design spirits of his mechs in another fashion.
While their presence enhances and breathes into mechs through the X-Factor, what if they affected a mech more directly?
What if Ves followed the logical train of thought that was central to the path of life? What if he gave his design spirits more direct control over the mech?
"Not completely. Just a portion."
He had just the idea.
Recently, he hadn't made a lot of progress in designing his smart metal tiger mech. He still lacked a good vision based on a viable mech concept.
Now, he was starting to have ideas. Radical ideas. Good ideas. Bad ideas.
With the path of life illuminated before him, he wanted to unearth more of its potential.
What better way to make mechs more alive than actually allowing them to express themselves?
His existing methods wouldn't change. He still intended to work with design spirits to empower the X-Factor of his mechs.
Yet that wasn't enough for him. Not anymore.
"One of the biggest weaknesses of my methods is that too many mech pilots are clueless on how to maximize their use."
By necessity, Ves always obscured his usage of the X-Factor. He resorted to euphemisms, misdirections and outright lies in order to hide the fact that he was making use of a facet that many mech designers could only dream of using.
Yet.. was it still necessary for him to be so circumspect now?
Ves smirked. "Not anymore. My situation is completely different now."
In the early days, Ves always imagined that he needed to hide his secrets to the death. He imagined he could only be more open about his secrets when he gained more strength and fame.
When he was still a Novice or an Apprentice, he was deeply afraid that the MTA or some unscrupulous mech designers would kidnap him and lock him up in their dungeons to extract his golden secrets.
Now that he became a Journeyman and became more exposed of the thinking within the MTA and the high-ranking mech design community, he realized that his concerns had been overblown.
"It's not that they're interested, but it is not worth making a move."
The Mech Trade Association may have turned into a pushy galaxy-spanning behemoth that imposed a lot of rules, but at its core it was still a trade and industry association. Its main purpose was to govern and regulate the mech industry and the mech market.
Every mech designer barring those on the run or gone pirate fell within their governance. Whether a mech designer became an internal or external member, they frequently submitted their mechs and designs to the MTA for certification or validation.
"This essentially means that they can track every mech designer's progress." He muttered.
All of the data they collected was probably being used to constantly evaluate a mech designer's worth. Perhaps they also tasked others to figure out the mechanisms behind their design philosophy in order to broaden the knowledge pool of the entire mech industry.
In essence, many mech designers already donated much of their data to the MTA! Rather than hoarding their design schematics and such, they freely submitted it to the MTA in order to receive their seals of approval!
"There's nothing inherently wrong with this scheme. It's a voluntary and mutually beneficial transaction!"
Ves admired the insidious ingenuity of the MTA. If mech designers had their way, they would have hoarded all of their secrets to their deaths. But by offering various attractive incentives, they managed to entice every legitimate mech designer into offering the Association some very close looks at their works.
No one got worse off. Ves had submitted a handful of mech designs to the MTA for validation and never felt very indignant about it. The practice was so normalized that every mech designers simply began to see it as something akin to submitting their homework for grading.
He scoffed. "The MTA just puts on a friendly teacher's coat and manages to deceive trillions of mech designers that they're just here to help."
As mech designers began to progress their design philosophies and become more formidable, the MTA keenly understood their development. How could they not when they could observe every change and improvement in the mech designs they submitted for validation?!
And when a valuable, high-ranking mech designer reached Master or neared the end of their lives, then the MTA could really pick up a bargain.
Due to the Big Two's monopoly on life-prolonging treatments, the MTA could simply dangle the opportunity to live another century more and receive the secrets they wanted in exchange for a procedure that was likely a lot cheaper to perform.
"Everyone wants to live longer."
The MTA knew this and invested a lot in keeping life-prolonging treatments in their own hands. Aside from the CFA and Five Scrolls Compact, they prevented anyone else from offering the same services.
Mech designers had no choice but to cough up their most valuable trade secrets. Not even Masters were exempt from this reality.
What Ves had learned from his visit at Centerpoint was that the MTA weren't interested in impermanent design philosophies. The trade secrets they valued the most were the ones that had been refined of all of their flaws and impurities and withstood the test of time.
Those who advanced to Master by realizing their design philosophies were the end products that the MTA truly sought for. As for the design philosophies that belonged to Journeymen and Seniors, the Association only slightly paid attention to them, but not to the point where they felt tempted to steal them in an underhanded manner.
Why steal an incomplete and underdeveloped design philosophy? It was akin to stealing a half-finished product that only displayed a fraction of their potential.
Not only that, but resorting to this move would definitely kill or ruin the mech designer they robbed, thereby stopping the incomplete design philosophy from developing any further!
The MTA was an immensely huge organization. It regularly interacted with countless mech designers, some of whom possessed very interesting design philosophies. The Association encountered so many strange phenomena that they had the luxury to sit back and wait for some of them to be realized.
Until that happened, every Journeyman and Senior had very little to fear that the MTA would cast greedy eyes on their unfinished design philosophies.
The same applied to Ves, especially since he left a distorted impression of himself when he paid a visit to the sector headquarters.
Ves did not regret pretending to be a nutcase in front of Professor Oodiv of the MTA.
It was true that his ill-thought decision led to a host of unexpected outcomes. He never intended to acquire an obsessive girlfriend or encourage Master Olson to kick him out of the Friday Coalition.
Nonetheless, these changes weren't entirely bad. They also led to a host of advantages, so Ves did not feel the need to lament over the changes forced upon his life.
"The key is that I successfully achieved my primary goal."
The entire reason he painted his design philosophy in an awful light was to give the MTA a mistaken impression of his beliefs.
Now that he pulled it off, the MTA would probably dismiss most of his unique accomplishments as extensions of an insane and irrational design philosophy.
"If it works for the MTA, I can make it work for everyone else."
If Ves amped up his eccentricity, he would be able to make other mech designers discount him as well.
Even if he started incorporating weird applications of spirituality in his mech designs, it was still fine.
As long as they associated it with the negative stereotype of Class IX design philosophies, they would subconsciously dismiss the value of his accomplishments.
If by some chance a mech designer started to cast greedy eyes on his design philosophy, what could they do? It wasn't as if a Journeyman or Senior could abandon their life's work at the drop of the hat and replace it with another. Their design seeds wouldn't allow them to trash their original design philosophies!
Novices and Apprentices were still capable of adopting different design philosophies, but it was all moot as long as they hadn't advanced to Journeyman yet. For a low-ranking mech designer to steal a radical and unorthodox design philosophy and expect to advance was close to impossible!
In summary, whether it was the MTA or other mech designers, Ves did not have to be so afraid of them anymore. As long as he wore the coat of a stereotypical Class IX mech designer, he could get away with a lot more than he previously thought possible!
"Maybe this act isn't even necessary in the first place!"
Whatever. He had already chosen his course, and he figured that adding some extra insurance on top of the general apathy of rival mech designers couldn't hurt. With at least two layers of insurance protecting him, his chances of attracting trouble by showing off a radical expression of his design philosophy decreased immensely.
To a paranoid mech designer like Ves, this meant a lot!
"This will help me a lot in exploring the path of life."
Much of the potential of the path of life lay in its emphasis on making mechs more closely resemble living entities. While Ves did not outright desire turning mechs into a new living species, he nonetheless expressed some interest into dipping his toes onto this fascinating path.
His next design would incorporate his first new innovation since he first made use of spiritual fragments.
His mind cast into his mental design space where he spontaneously envisioned his mech concept.
He began with imagining a standard-looking tiger mech. Once he fixated its overall shape and dimensions, he began to seek instances where he could cleverly incorporate smart metal.
"Although the overall structure has to be resilient enough to absorb the strong forces the bestial mech is subjected to, there is still a role for smart metal."
Smart metal was already used in many mechs, particularly more advanced ones, to act as shock absorbing cushions.
A simplified way of describing it was that mech designers used smart metal as very advanced springs. Unlike regular springs, they couldn't absorb as much overwhelming force in a single instance.
However, these smart metal shock absorbers possessed an advantage that regular shock absorbers lacked.
They could regenerate and self-repair. Once they absorbed so much shock that they broke, much of the force had already been absorbed. It had already performed its purpose in that instance.
Once the crisis had passed, the broken shock absorbers could easily piece themselves back together. Depending on the type of smart metal being used, this might happen in seconds, which was very crucial in intensive battles!
A tiger mech with constantly-regenerating shock absorbers could withstand a lot more chronic abuse than regular mechs! It would be a treasure on high-gravity planets where every mech had to endure a continuous degree of heavy shocks!
"And that's not all!"
He hadn't even gotten to the fun part of his tiger mech, the part that showcased his new understanding of the path of life!