The Mech Touch Chapter 370

Chapter 370: Security Concerns
The issue of earning DP continued to hound Ves. Right now, most of his DP came from selling physical Blackbeak copies. In this regard, his silver label Blackbeaks only earned him a trickle, while the much more abundant bronze label Blackbeaks actually drove most of his DP income.Even then, domestic sales of the Blackbeak had started to slide now that most of the immediate demand had been met. Elemental Mech Engineering, the third party manufacturer that marketed its products in the domestic market, already informed the LMC that they had already dialed down their production.Vaun Industrial had picked up the slack, but it wasn't easy trying to introduce a Brighter product into the markets of foreign states. Besides some modest success in the Protectorate and a couple of other states, Vaun had failed to make an impact elsewhere."It's going to take at least a month before my DP swells up to 40,000." He judged.That was a fairly long time, and anything could happen in between. He did not wish to delay his project any more than necessary.In the meantime, Ves kept collecting feedback from his friends and closest employees. He heard pretty much the same thing about power supply, heat management and the effectiveness of the armor system from everyone, although they focused on different aspects.Different from last time, the LMC had now grown into a sizable employer. Besides asking other people's opinions in an informal setting, he also got roped into holding a meeting in front of a bunch of marketing managers he didn't even know his company hired.While they lacked the technical background to understand the nuts and bolts of his design, their understanding of the market provided welcome comments."The design looks to be on the thick side when compared to other rifleman mechs. That's not a bad thing per se, but your customers are wondering if the bulk adds enough value to your mech. Rifleman mechs these days come very light.""The specs look good enough, but I'm afraid it won't give the design enough of an edge compared to the dominant models on the market.""The crystal projector technology looks very interesting, but most buyers will look at it with a grain of salt. You need to demonstrate this feature in a live exhibition in order to make an impact.""Your design's appearance looks very neutral and unisex. I think it will be better if you can adjust its profile to be more masculine. That's going to project more strength and make your buyers more confident about purchasing a good product."The more feedback he gathered, the more he gained a sense on how the market would receive his mech. Ves had to admit the HR department did a good job hiring some insightful folk.Ever since the LMC moved to the Mech Nursery, Ves noticed that every employee gained a sense of pride and accomplishment. Trading up from the shabby old workshop and a couple of rented offices downtown to a company-owned office and manufacturing complex added a lot of weight and legitimacy to the company.Another important event happened in between the feedback sessions. Melkor finally brought his newly acquired mechs and mech pilots home. His cousin brought the nucleus of the Avatars of Myth to the mech stables erected close to the center of the Mech Nursery next to where Sanyal-Ablin stashed their own mechs.When Ves met with Melkor, the newly christened force commander brought along his hired men and women. Their ages trended in the upper range for mech pilots, from the upper thirties to the lower fifties. They all stood at ranks as if they had never left the Mech Corps."Are they former servicemen?""Most of them have served in the Mech Corps in some capacity as advanced mech pilots." Melkor nodded. "For one reason or another, they sought out jobs in the private sector. Don't worry, they haven't been dishonorably discharged. There are no problems in their background.""Are they willing to stick around for a decade?""As long as we maintain the same level of remuneration, there's nothing to worry about. They're onboard for the long haul as they've all signed a fixed contract."Ves nodded at his words. Every member of the Avatars of Myth received a very generous amount of compensation, well above the market average in fact. In return, the mech pilots would be obliged to keep their mouths shut and accept hazardous deployments without question."That's good. How are they taking their new jobs?""We've mostly been training our teamwork and coordination in simulations. We also performed some live-fire exercises, but it's difficult seeing as our knight mechs are supposed to be our backup models.""I forgot about that." Ves admitted. The Avatars of Myths was meant to pilot his own designs in time once he filled out the other roles. "I'll divert some time to fabricate two exclusive gold label Blackbeaks for your knight pilots.""We're grateful for that. The sooner you get that done, the earlier we can become a well-oiled machine."Ves hung around the Avatars of Myth for a while and discussed some matters with Melkor while observing the other mech pilots. From what he had witnessed so far, despite his age, Melkor seemed to have earned the respect of the veteran mech pilots. They didn't treat him like a rookie who was way in over his head.Maybe Melkor possessed a talent in administration and leadership. He looked like the type of person who was very meticulous and detail-oriented. It remained to be seen if he could keep his cool and direct the Avatars of Myth in an actual battle, however."After you've received the two Blackbeaks, when will the Avatars be battle ready?"Melkor had to think carefully how to answer that question. "They are all competent mech pilots, so there is no questioning their capabilities. They can be deployed immediately in an emergency, but you shouldn't get your hopes up. Without sufficient drilling, they're liable to fight as eight separate mechs rather than a single cohesive squad."Despite what Melkor might think, Ves knew the importance of improving coordination and building up a rapport. He still possessed some lingering memories from Barley during his first Mastery acquisition.His evaluation of his cousin went up. No Larkinson was average. He grew more curious about why the Mech Corps let go of Melkor in the first place."Did you get into contact with Raella while you recruited your men at Bentheim?""I did.""How is she?""She's irritable to me." Melkor answered as he adjusted the visor on his head. "The Larkinsons have openly cut ties with her. Every family member on Rittersberg is aghast at her decision to join the Blood Claws. It's clear she doesn't want anything to do with the Larkinsons right now."Ves shook his head in regret. Maybe he should have paid her more attention when she'd been assigned as his bodyguard. A small part of him also blamed Dietrich for bringing her to Bentheim and introducing her to the Blood Claws.Still, there was no use crying over spilled milk."Is she happy there?""Oh, she certainly is. I think the separation has done some good for her, as the family's expectations for her has weighed her down. Some people aren't meant to bear this kind of pressure. She's found her own lot in life now.""Well, she can always come back to us if she wants to get out. The Blood Claws aren't exactly the friendliest bunch to hang around with. Gangs aren't exactly the most stable employers in the galaxy."After commiserating about Raella's fate, they moved on to planning for the future."There's a war going on right now." Ves said with apprehension. "While Cloudy Curtain is probably too small to register in the radar of the Vesians, they might look at us as an easy target. Are you prepared to defend the Mech Nursery?""Not on our own." Melkor shook his head. "We'll still have to rely on Sanyal-Ablin to do the heavy lifting. Are they contracted to hold against overwhelming odds?""Not as of yet. It's too expensive to make them fight to the death. If they face overwhelming odds, they'll prioritize their own lives."That was the downside of contracting a security company instead of setting up your own force. While security companies sounded more respectable than mercenaries, they essentially shared the same traits.Just like mercenaries, security companies prioritised their own benefits over the interests of their clients. In order to secure the full backing of Sanyal-Ablin in the event of an overwhelming attack, Ves would need to pay several billions of credits each year.Even then, they might still cut and run at the end.Ves would rather invest in the Avatars of Myth than put his faith into Sanyal-Ablin. Although their Konsu Clan origins sufficiently deterred the small fry from pulling any mischief, the Mech Legion wouldn't hold back their punches.It was not as if the security company stood directly for the Konsu Clan. At most, it represented a single interest group within the massive Coalition partner's political landscape. Plenty of precedents proved that well-connected security companies like SASS purely adhered to the mercenary standard and avoided greater entanglement.It would be ugly if a group backed by someone in the Gauge Dynasty demolished a group from the Konsu Clan, and the latter followed up on the incident to the highest authority.Proxy wars should be kept at arm's length.In a sense, Ves enjoyed the implicit backing of the Clifford Society and Master Olson's extensive network. Standing under their shadows even if Ves wasn't a part of their inner circles saved him a lot of potential trouble.His enemies couldn't be unscrupulous in their methods to deal with him. Otherwise, Ves would have been subjected to a lot more assassination attempts.Still, Ves largely considered himself as an independent mech designer. Master Olson opened up a lot of doors for him, but he didn't enjoy her highest favor. That was reserved for direct disciples like Oleg, a freak so smart that Ves suspected that his intelligence had naturally broken past the human limit in his teens.After commanding Melkor to liaison with Sanyal-Ablin concerning base defense, Ves moved back to the underground fabrication floor and commandeered the Dortmund production line.He proceeded to spend the next three days on fabricating the gold label Blackbeaks for the Avatars of Myth. He demanded to work on both mechs alone to ensure the highest quality.The mech technicians around him didn't mind their exclusion at all. In fact, it left them free to observe his confident work methods and the exquisite way he built up the two mechs.Even though he spent much less time on fabrication than his mech technicians, his every move and action elicited praise from his grease monkeys."This is how a real master works!""Even Carlos and the chief are left in the dust compared to our boss!""How wonderful it is to witness the boss at work. With his skills, he could have easily become the lead fabricator in a major mech manufacturer.""Hah, lead fabricator? That's too small a job for our boss. Even if a bigshot company from the galactic center offered him a cushy job, he'd be a fool to give up what he built up on his own. Mech design is where his real passion lies."Ves felt better when he heard the incidental praise, even though they hardly knew anything about the real mech industry. His Assembly Skills and Sub-Skills looked impressive, but any seasoned fabricator in the major mech manufacturers in the Republic could beat him down a notch.Those who dedicated their entire careers in this field couldn't be underestimated.Once Ves finished the two mechs, he personally ensured they went to the Avatars of Myth. The two knight pilots looked especially ecstatic to pilot his handcrafted work. His gold label Blackbeaks had earned an exalted reputation among the mech community, and their quality was as revered as their scarcity."The two machines will definitely make the men happy." Melkor remarked to Ves. "Once you supply us with other types of mechs, the Avatars of Myth will really go into business then."They watched on as the cadre of the Avatars surrounded the two artistic machines. The reliefs and carvings that the lower labels lacked elicited a lot of admiration.Now that Ves had finished his chores, he thought it was time to get back to the main business at hand. He already collected sufficient feedback to make some targeted adjustments to his design. He was itching to go at it, but without possession of a Mastery, the chance of going astray at some point scared him off."I need more Design Points." He frowned when he noted he was shy of 20,000 DP away from being able to afford his desired Mastery.