Chapter 244: Senior Management
Ves could spend as little or as much as he wanted to acquire the necessary component licenses.
If he wanted to splurge, he could blow a billion credits on the sensor systems alone, yet such an improvement hardly affected his design. “It’s not about adding further improvements to my design, but retaining the strengths it already enjoys.”
Desperate designers with an acute lack of money sometimes licensed outdated components offered by the MTA. They utilized technology that had been developed at least sixty years ago to plug a hole in their designs.
If Ves tried to do the same, he risked condemnation. As a premium design, his phoenix knight had to maintain a minimum level of performance across the board. He couldn’t justify the 60 million credits price tag if he played fast and loose with his design.
He proceeded to splurge his entire budget on a number of generic licenses. Some components cost a little more than others, but Ves spent just enough to stray away from bargain bin territory.
Besides acquiring licenses for minor components that only die-hard enthusiasts cared about like gyroscopes or inertial compensators, Ves also made some big ticket purchases that played a vital role in the performance of his mech.
The sensor system cost an easy 100 million credits to pick up its license. At that price, Ves obtained the right to use a serviceable set of sensors that had specifically been designed to compliment knight mechs. It prioritized close-range detection over long-range detection and could take a beating as well.
“It’s not like my knight will ever be used for a scout. It’s enough if it can detect a sneaking mech up close.”
The second major transaction consisted of a set of supplementary alloy formulas for the sword, shield and internal frame. Each part demanded different degrees of hardness, ductility, density and sharpness. The alloys that came with the Veltrex armor system only covered the exterior of the mech, and should not be used in other areas. Ves spent a total of 250 million credits to obtain all of these licenses.
The last major license consisted of the right to apply the Bright Republic’s Modular Fitting Standard to his design. The Modular Fitting Standard or MFS was a relatively recent invention that aimed to standardize the dimensions of modular attachments for mechs.
Basically, the MFS ensured that every mech that used the same standard could share the same type of backpacks or other compatible devices.
For example, an MFS allowed a mech pilot to attach a standard energy pack from the Republic without worrying about compatibility issues. If he happened to come across an abandoned Vesian pack in the field, then he would have no luck, as the Vesian standard used a different set of dimensions. The plugs wouldn’t fit in the sockets.
Before the proliferation of MFS, different companies and individual mech designers all employed their format. This led to a maze of confusing choices along with plenty of kludges as mech technicians tried to mate different modular standards together in the field.
Nowadays, each state or major faction stuck to a single standard to ease their logistics. The Mech Corps no longer had to keep track of fifty separate fittings.
Along with many other miscellaneous components such as transceivers and processors, Ves finally obtained all the necessary ingredients to design a mech.
“One billion credits down the drain. I only have around 400 million left in disposable cash.”
The LMC still earned a decent amount of money out of routine transactions, so Ves didn’t worry about running out of cash. Ves already reserved 100 million credits for an upcoming ad campaign, and he expected to spend a bit more to supplement the development of his phoenix knight.
“I’ll have to fabricate a prototype at the very least.” He mused as he stroked Lucky’s back. The cat had woken up from his nap and demanded his daily dose of petting. “I can recycle it down to its constituent materials once I’m done with my tests, but I’m better off if I donate it to the MTA.”
If Ves wanted to submit a valid original design to the MTA, he had to demonstrate he actually did all the work. The reality of the mech industry was that mech designers often cheated in their work. The worst cases involved stealing someone else’s work through hacking or applying pressure.
“It’s best to bring in the MTA right from the start. I should send my development logs to their servers.”
He took some time to setup a secure connection to the MTA. Once every day, his computer systems passed along his documents, his data sets and more. He even included camera recordings of himself working on the design. This should leave ironclad proof that he alone developed the phoenix knight.
That was very important. A mech designer’s first original design should always be the culmination of his own efforts. While he’d be allowed to employ assistants or specialists who worked on the components, the overall design of the mech must always be the reflection of a designer’s skill.
Otherwise, any designer could ask a senior to ‘help’ him along. How could anyone be proud of their first original design if the senior did ninety percent of the work?
After establishing a connection, Ves was ready to move on to the next phase of his project. “It’s time to mold my draft into an actual design.”
This would be the most important phase of his design project. Ves couldn’t afford any missteps at this point.
To turn his draft into a design, he had to incorporate the newly acquired components and fill out all of the missing gaps in the schematic. He expected to face a lot of bumps in trying to make something work the way he wanted to. Ves had to be inventive in order to make all of its goodies fit inside a single frame.
“At least it won’t be as bad as the Caesar Augustus. Trying to fit multiple weapon systems in a single frame is a lot harder than trying to design a simple knight.”
Ves faced two particular challenges in designing an offensive knight. First, he had to maintain a careful balance between mobility and protection. While he wanted to have the best of both, sometimes he could only prioritize one over the other. Ves had to make sure he didn’t overshoot his priorities and put their balance out of whack.
His second priority lay in ensuring an adequate level of redundancy and compartmentalization in his mech’s internal architecture. The downside to trimming the waist of his design was that it cut back on a lot of space that could have been used to toughen up his mech’s internals.
He pondered over the issue. “The Keltrex armor system should be able to prevent a lot of breaches. It’s not a disaster if my RF and CF ratios are merely average. A good mech pilot should be able to pull back before an enemy can exploit the holes in his mech.”
Unless it was a matter of life and death, mech pilots always retreated before their mechs sustained too many battle damage. It took only a few stray shots to completely ruin a mech’s internals. The benefits of staying in the field didn’t outweigh the risks of death or totalling an expensive machine.
Before he embarked on his work, Ves wanted to take of any upcoming matters. He worked best if he could devote his entire concentration on his design.
“Ves!” Carlos called as he stepped inside his office. “You’ve got another pair of visitors from your family.”
“Bring them to the lounge. I’ve been expecting them for a while.”
After brushing up his clothes, Ves met with the retainers the Larkinsons had groomed on Rittersberg.
At first glance, the newcomers still retained the air of an elite from Rittersberg. The man looked like a typical bureaucrat, with his neatly groomed grey hair and impeccable suit. The woman looked younger, but still mature enough to occupy a senior position in a company. Both looked like they mean business.
“Ves, it’s good to see you. My name is Jake Altern and this is Primrose Mackarie. We’ve been working on behalf of the Larkinson Estate for over a hundred years combined. I think you will find we can add a lot of value to the Living Mech Corporation if you let us take part in your venture.”
Ves shook both of their hands. “I’ve already inspected your resumes, and I’m fairly satisfied with your qualifications. However, both of you have mainly worked in the retail sector. You will find that managing a mech business is a whole other beast than running a department store.”
“We are aware of this shortcoming, but the Larkinsons have extensive connections to the mech industry.”
Jake and Primrose had made an effort to immerse themselves into the world of mechs by reading up a lot of industry-specific textbooks. They also exchanged knowledge with various industry insiders. Together with their existing business acumen, the two should be amply prepared to take the helm of any medium-sized mech manufacturer.
“I’m glad to hear you’ve made the extra mile. The LMC is still in its infancy at this point, but I expect a lot of growth in the future once I publish my first original design. I’m going to need a competent COO and CFO to support my company’s rise.”
Without any further hesitation, Ves appointed Jake as the COO and Primrose as the CFO.
The chief operating officer often acted as the number two within the corporation. In the case of a mech manufacturer, the founder and principal mech designer usually occupied the title of CEO while the COO performed the actual day-to-day management of his company.
Since Jake occupied various leadership positions for the businesses under the Larkinsons, Ves could think of no other suitable position for him to adopt. His age and experience should provide a steady hand at the top.
The chief financial officer took care of the finances and bookkeeping of the company. The CFO led the financial department of a company, which managed the its accounts and made sure that no one secretly siphoned any money away. They also kept track of any transactions and made sure that their ledgers complied with the law.
While Primrose’s resume did not look as impressive as Jake’s, her knowledge in the field of accounting surpassed anyone else in the entire company by far. Ves had always intended to hire on an accountant to straighten up his increasingly burdensome transactions.
“The amount of money flying around will easily surpass a billion credits every year, spread over thousands of individual transactions. Right now, I don’t have a lot of contingencies if something goes wrong. I hope you can help me with that, Miss Primrose.”
“Just call me Primrose.” She smiled at him. “I’ve already taken a peek at your records. It’s a bit crude, but not as messy as I’ve thought. There are a number of entries that your automated management suite has been producing a lot of errors.”
With his permission, Primrose brought up his asset listings and pointed out the nonsensical credit values attached to some of his licenses and his equipment. The accounting software mainly failed to estimate the proper values of things Ves had acquired by exchanging merits or DP.
“Oh, yeah, I haven’t really thought of that.” Ves awkwardly grinned. “The value of some of these things is very substantial but have a complicated background.”
For example, Ves had no clue how to estimate the credit value of his reconstructed Dortmund printer. It should be worth several billions of credits, but it wasn’t exactly market standard.
Fortunately, his newly hired CFO didn’t mind the oversight. “I can take up this task. It’s imperative your company can deliver a proper accounting to the Republic’s tax office if asked. They may even confiscate your assets if you’ve been negligent in this area.”
That sounded very scary to Ves, so he eagerly handed off all responsibilities of this nature to Primrose.
Besides discussing accounting, Ves also laid out his future plans to Jake. “I’d like you to take care of three things. First, I want you to setup an administrative department for the LMC. You don’t have to hire a lot of people, just make sure you hire enough to take care of all of the routine stuff that needs done.”
“Consider it done.”
“Next, I want you to help lay down the groundwork for the debut of my first original design. I don’t think I need to explain how important its success affects my company and my career. My biggest priority is to secure a fixed supplier to supply the most critical exotics for my design. I’ll send you the list.”
“That will be difficult to accomplish.” Jake admitted. “A fixed supply contract is mostly established through existing connections or referrals and needs to be maintained through trust and communication. I think it’s best I hire a specialist that can facilitate a connection with a specific supplier.”
“Just get it done.” Ves didn’t care about the specific method. “My third demand is to get a handle on the political situation of Cloudy Curtain. My business is hovering on uncertainty right now because the ruling coalition has a beef with me. I’ve got a part-time law student filling me in on the situation, but I don’t have the time to manage my relations with the scumbags in power.”
“It’s best to start up a relations department that can maintain ties with the local stakeholders of your company.”
They had a fruitful talk about his intentions for the company. By the time the day came at an end, his new executives should have a good idea on how to perform their jobs. Ves would keep an eye on them, of course, but he didn’t expect any missteps on account of their experience.