Chapter 222: Eternal Edition
Ves successfully blended his new vision onto a very slightly tweaked design. With this, the Caesar Augustus Eternal Edition should be ready for fabrication once he got the raw materials.
This time, Ves had to wince as he ordered another batch of materials to add to his existing orders. Compressed armor always used up more exotics. With the rising cost of resources, his total cost had ballooned to 50 million credits!
“I can barely make a profit out of this model if I only charge a normal price.”
At least he gained something from this effort. His understanding of this old design had deepened, which should prove useful for his next project.
With two Eternal Editions down, Ves turned his attention to the third design, a comech variant of the Caesar Augustus. Having worked on several different variants of this design gave him a unique impression of what it could do.
“It’s a mech designed for heroic leaders. It’s not a coincidence the coating is brilliant white. This mech is designed to inspire.”
While that sounded great, Ves put some questions on whether this scenario actually occurred since the model’s release.
What mech designers cook up in their imagination might not translate into practical designs. The Caesar Augustus embodied this phenomenon. The model became larger than life due to the hopeful dreams that propelled its design. In a certain perspective, it represented a high note of the last generation of mechs.
Figuring this out reignited his own passion and love for mech design. He summed up the underlying intent of this design. “Mechs don’t always have to be realistic. What’s wrong with a little fantasy?”
Granted, such a naive approach to mech design rarely led to critical success. The mech market centered around fulfilling their practical demands such as delivering high performance for a reasonable cost. The bloated Caesar Augustus failed to reach the heights its designer originally aimed for, and suffered for it upon its debut.
Ves wanted to chart his own path.
The Mark II had been designed with practicality and cost-efficiency in mind, while the Caesar Augustus revolved around hope. Ves wished to design a variant that embodied his own ideals instead of adhering to the demands of the market or the original designer.
An inkling of magnitude crept up in his mind. Ves faintly realized this decision affected his design philosophy. Even though Ves only grasped a glimpse of what seniors and masters referred to as design philosophy, he knew its development formed the key to advancing to their level.
“The way these people talk about design philosophy makes it clear it’s not about mentality alone.” Ves surmised after he recalled the few instances where older mech designers stressed the importance of developing a design philosophy. “It involves some sort of higher state of being.”
Ves had the sense that it functioned similar to the X-Factor and that it involved some sort of metaphysics. From what he heard, a well-developed design philosophy enabled a mech designer to develop a design that functioned beyond the boundaries of common science. The more advanced Journeyman-level textbooks occasionally hinted at such.
“Design philosophy and the X-Factor may even be different roads that lead to the same destination. Is this why AIs haven’t taken over the job of designing mechs?” He mused.
The technology to allow computers to design mechs on their own existed for a long time. Even then, it never caught on. Design philosophy should be one of the main reasons why AIs could never match a human mind.
Ves shook his head and turned his attention back to his design. For his third model, Ves wanted to embody his own principles. So far, his principles aspired to bring mechs to life.
He summed up his end goal. “People should look at my design and mistake it for a living entity.”
His mechs didn’t need to be autonomous sentient beings like some living AI. After all, he designed mechs, not robots. The difference between the two was that mechs functioned best when paired with a human pilot. Ves aimed to enhance the piloting experience by enriching the mech with lifelike qualities.
A wonderful synergy should result with this pairing. What Jarle pulled off with his customized DarkSpear should only be the tip of the spear of what Ves ultimately wanted to bring into existence.
This time Ves decided to go with an understated X-Factor for his third model. Ves didn’t wish to overshadow the Caesar Augustus Eternal Edition, which ought to play the leading role in his display.
He quickly hit a snag. “How can I design a mech that’s both eternal but also alive?”
Something that lived went through various phases of life. They grew stronger from the moment of their birth and declined in strength once they reached their peak. Something with a finite lifespan did not fit well with a mech that was supposed to be eternal.
He turned to a simple solution. In his imagination, anything was possible, even eternity. Ves envisioned an Immortal Sage, a being out of ancient myth just like the Instructor.
The man used to be a warrior at youth, achieving plenty of merits that fueled his career into officialdom. Through hard work and smart decisions, he achieved a higher status, eventually vaulting to a ministry before deciding to retire.
Even then, he continued to guide his country towards prosperity. Stepping back from power granted him a sober perspective on many matters. Through constant deduction and self-reflection, his mind experienced a cleansing that elevated him to immortality.
“I like this image.” He smiled.
This time, he used it as the central component of his Triple Division technique. The base role remained a hybrid knight while the totem animal consisted of a mythical undying turtle.
After a few hours of composing an appropriate background for all of his images, he mashed them all together.
Surprisingly, the images didn’t come to blows. The Immortal Sage and the undying turtle minded their own business. Only the hybrid knight showed some aggression but failed to uncover any openings. The two sagely images both collaborated with each other, holding the hybrid knight at bay.
“This isn’t supposed to happen.”
He deliberately strengthened the Sage and allocated only a limited amount of mental strength to the other two images. Ves wanted the Sage to stomp over the other two and absorb their essense in order to evolve its own.
Life threw a wrench in that plan.
“It’s best not to force the situation further.” He concluded. “It’s my own fault for making the Immortal Sage so enlightened.”
Ves went to work on a template of the Caesar Augustus with his tentative images. He couldn’t help but overhaul large portions of its crowded interior. The solutions he developed for the Marc Antony Mark II could also be applied to the base model.
He made sure not to go too far, both because the frames ultimately differed in many aspects. Different armor systems led to different weight distribution and support. Ves had to figure out plenty of new solutions to simplify the internals.
Just like with the other two designs, this time Ves aimed to enhance the mech’s longevity. He borrowed some of the solutions he applied on the original Caesar Augustus, saving him a lot of time.
In total, Ves spent just over a week to refine his third design. As it came into its own identity, the design already started to evoke a strong sense of life, wisdom and immortality.
As a final touch, Ves added in the Festive Cloud Generator in the form of a rolling purple cape instead of a head crest. It added to his variant’s role as a ruler instead of a warrior.
“Let’s call this one the Marcus Aurelius.”
The Ancient Roman emperor in Old Earth’s history had been regarded as something of a sage. As Ves was no expert of this time period, he merely picked the first suitable name the galactic net spat out. It sounded stately enough to convey the right emotions.
The Marcus Aurelius functioned more as a symbol rather than a war machine. While Ves maintained its capability to do battle, he much rather preferred to see it prosper in times of peace.
Ves passed over the design to the System for evaluation. He already knew how well his latest design performed, so he skimmed over most of the report. The only thing that mattered to Ves was its X-Factor.
In this regard, the System granted the design a score of C+, well below his expected target.
“Oh come on, System! Just because the images didn’t cannibalize each other doesn’t mean my design is any worse than the DarkSpear!”
The System stayed silent of course, but even if it knew the answer, Ves had to figure things out on his own.
Obviously, a higher quality X-Factor required some kind of interaction with his images. Allowing them to fight to the death should only be one way to spur an evolution. Ves wondered if he could get his images to evolve through voluntary synthesis.
“It’s something to consider for the next time.”
Right now, Ves finished his design work. All he had to do was fabricate the show models of all three designs in order to meet the requirements to participate in the Vintage Festival.
The raw materials for the Eternal Editions of the Mark II and the Caesar Augustus had already arrived. By the time he finished fabricating the show models of both designs, the resources to fabricate the Marcus Aurelius should also be shipped to his workshop.
“Carlos!” Ves called when he entered the workshop floor.
“Set aside your current project and help me fabricate my three show models. I’ve just finished their design and I’m itching to see if they measure up in reality.”
The two went about their work with infectious enthusiasm. Ves took the lead this time because he wanted to ensure the X-Factor for each of the models remained pure. He merely let Carlos fetch some materials or arrange some minor details to speed up the work. His employee lacked the mental strength to compete against his boss in this aspect.
The Eternal Edition of the Mark II only took a day to complete. With their extreme familiarity of the LMC’s only production model, they hardly needed to pause as they used the Dortmund printer and the new assembly system to put a mech together.
Ves left the mech aside after inspecting its X-Factor. It had indeed gained a smidgen of eternity compared to his other gold label mechs, but the difference was rather small. Its design still retained something of a workhorse quality Ves had conveyed in his original vision for the Mark II.
“I should get a better result with the other two models.”
This would be the first time his workshop fabricated a mech clad with compressed armor. While Ves had fabricated the fabrication of the Caesar Augustus in a virtual environment, that gave little comfort to him. Virtual fabrication only provided him with a simplified experience in an excessively ideal environment.
Only a little more than a week remained until the deadline for entry passed. Ves had to work briskly in order to make it in time.
Over a week-long period, Ves fabricated both the Caesar Augustus Eternal Edition and the Marcus Aurelius in back-to-back sessions that stretched on for many hours.
Ves faced very few difficulties with fabricating their internals, which shared many commonalities with the internals of the Mark II. He only encountered difficulties when he started fabricating compressed armor plating.
The formula used in the formation of the extremely resilient armor demanded an extreme amount of precision. Ves constantly had to watch the chemical treatment machine and the alloy compressor to make sure they applied their processes evenly.
Flat plates required relatively little effort to ensure their quality, but the process became more complicated once he started with the curved ones. Their uneven shapes added a lot of extra work for Ves as he had to find the right settings to allow the processes to seep into the plating without major deviations.
Ves barely completed the fabrication of the two expensive models within the deadline. As a final touch, Ves added in a couple of random gems with minor effects. With his growing sum of DP, he could easily afford the 100 DP it took to add an anonymous stamp to Lucky’s gems.
When Ves stored the models side-by-side in an expanded store room, he became bewitched by their mutually reinforcing auras.
Any single model represented a treasure by itself, but when they were put together, they achieved a qualitative transformation that even Carlos couldn’t ignore.
“Why do I get the feeling that your show models are hiding something big?” Carlos asked with puzzlement.
Ves smiled at his employee’s remark. “You have no idea how special these models are. They’re eternal.”