The Mech Touch Chapter 689
688 The Unappreciated
Ves heartlessly dumped Ketis at the 3D printer and left her to fend for herself for a while. While he could have stayed with her and supervised her attempts at fumbling together a miniature mech, she already relied too much on help from Mayra or someone else.
A true mech designer would be able to design and fabricate a mech by themselves. Ves always believed in this statement.
Too many mech designers transitioned jumped straight into design teams and collaborative projects, leaving them no opportunity to practice all the skills required to independently design a mech.
Perhaps other mech designers saw nothing wrong with that, but Ves found it to be as neglectful as boarding a shuttle that flew up in orbit while its hatch was still open!
In order to brush up her design skills, Ves left her with the vanilla Marc Antony Mark I design schematics. It was up to her to miniaturize it and to replace unviable components with viable ones that worked at that scale. She also had to replace the cockpit with an AI and remote control module.
"It's just like the time I developed that miniature as a gift to Iris."
The act of converting a full-sized mech to a miniature that you could hold in your hand exercised a lot of different design skills at once. It was a convenient if somewhat distorted representation of how to prepare and fabricate a working mech.
Ves mostly breezed through the exercise, but he had a feeling that Ketis might not fare so smoothly. Still, the experiences she gained out of this exercise would lay the foundation for what came next. He hadn't forgotten about his initial goal to try and stoke her passion.
"However, in order to fire up her passion, there needs to be enough fuel to be present to burn. Right now her accumulation is too shallow. She needs to grow up a little more before she's ready to tackle greater heights."
When Ves exited the workshop, he met Chief Haine yet again. The woman had been leaning against the bulkhead next to the hatch.
He groaned. He did not wish to retread the earlier argument.
"If this is about Ketis, please don't argue about it. Let's just move on, okay?"
"You think it's that simple?" The Chief Technician pressed her fists against her hips. "What she did was inexcusable. It's not easy to keep our mech technicians happy, you know. If you think about it, they rank at the top of the technician branches, right next to ship ratings. However, the tragedy about becoming a mech technician is that while there are plenty of ways to specialize in their ability to service mechs, it's almost impossible for them to get promoted to a higher station."
Ves never poked his nose that deeply in the realities of being a mech technician. Sometimes he fell into the trap that he accused Ketis of. It was all to easy for him to treat the low-skilled and low-born mech technicians as bots in human form, as things to be taken for granted.
They were so inconsequential and interchangeable that if all of their mech technicians got killed and a new batch of them came in, there would be no measurable change to the work being done.
"I don't disagree with you, chief." He said in a diplomatic fashion. "I already know all of this. Is it worth your time by repeating this to me?"
"The job of being a mech technician isn't as glamorous or as upwardly mobile as being a mech designer. It's true that while you lot have it harder, at least you get the benefit of upward mobility. That's not the case with mech technicians. No matter how hard we study or how much work we put into the mechs that pass from our hands, developing our specialties only bumps our paygrade by a couple of notches as most. A senior mech technician doesn't receive more respect than a junior mech technician."
"Mech technicians work in the background." Ves pointed out. "They are the bees that keep the beehive running with their dutiful supply of nectar. They are not meant to be queens like mech designers. A mech designer isn't just a technical profession. It's also a symbol and figurehead for a brand of mechs. The ability and design style of an individual mech designer has a huge influence on the quality and properties of his mechs. The same can't be said about mech technicians."
Chief Haine grew a little frustrated at the wall put up by Ves. "Even so, a good crew of mech technicians is vital for mech designers to realize their designs in the best fashion possible! Damnit, Ves, mech technicians matter!"
"Yes, and no."
"What is that supposed to mean?!"
He really didn't want to deal with this nonsense, but interacting with Ketis and her distinct beliefs had put him in a strange mood.
"Although I don't condone the beliefs spouted by Ketis, I think we should be clear that mech technicians are essentially semi-skilled labor. Sure, they need to be handy with machines, but compared to mech designers, they are expected to learn a lot less of the sciences needed to understand mechs. I could even argue that mech technicians aren't able to explain how mechs work. While I value your mech technicians and agree that they should be appreciated, I think it's a mistake to elevate them to a pedestal that's too high for their merits. A tech is a tech."
Her face turned inscrutable as she tried to parse his words. Ves had strayed somewhat from the initial topic that she couldn't figure out how to respond to it. Was he wrong? She wanted to say yes, but deep down she knew better.
She hated Ves for reminding her of those thoughts.
"Ves, I think you should stop talking before you slander my men."
"My apologies. My mind has been muddled lately by the nonsense of our little pirate guest. Are you.. are you aware of the true plight of mech technicians employed by pirates?"
Surprisingly, she nodded. "I'm a chief technician. It's my job to know this stuff. One of the responsibilities the Mech Corps has entrusted to chiefs like us is to stop our subordinates from thinking that working for pirates is a better idea. You always see some idiots every now and then who develop romantic ideas about becoming a pirate. Once I beat it into their thick skulls that they're going to be treated worse than dirt, they'll quickly drop their unrealistic notions."
"How often does it crop up?"
"Oh, it depends on where they work and who employs them. A mech technician in military service is a notch above the rest. The only way you can do better is if you're assigned to be part of the permanent maintenance crew of an expert mech. Even then, once every two months or so, one of my men or women inevitably think they get more pay and liberties if they go pirate. The lengthy tours, the restrictive rules and lack of promotion opportunities always gets to them somehow. Not everyone is cut out for military service."
Certainly, their lot did not seem very attractive to Ves, but they enjoyed higher pay than other types of technicians and they get to work with mechs. As far as Ves was concerned, the latter was already a reward in itself. In the Age of Mechs, many people wanted to work with mechs, but only few became qualified to do so. Becoming a mech technician wasn't hard because it didn't require too much talent or learning ability, but it wasn't easy either as they needed to display an instinctive aptitude with machinery of all kinds.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click for visiting.
Someone who didn't feel comfortable with working with machines all day had no right to become a mech technician. In this day and age where humanity became unprecedented dependent on machines of all kinds, a surprising majority of people lacked this essential touch.
Baseline humans evolved too slowly to keep up with their tool-using ways.
The two parted on less-than-stellar terms, but Ves knew Chief Haine would get over it. Her professionalism and sense of duty demanded it. Besides, she knew better than to hold Ves against his own beliefs when many other mech designers thought the same.
Just because Ves disapproved of treating mech technicians like outright slaves didn't mean he became their advocate. Certainly, he enjoyed the appreciation of his own men, but he never once forgot they worked for him, not the other way around.
Mech technicians were never meant to be the stars of the show.
Back in school, Ves became exposed to case studies where mech designers became too chummy with their mech technicians. They passed on an unprecedented amount of authority to the chief technician and the individual mech technicians, so much so that they half-ran the company!
All of the mech companies in the case studies eventually came to ruin because letting mech technicians take charge was like putting a toddler at the helm of a starship. There was no way it would end in anything other than a crash!
"The only way a mech technician can obtain a better future is if they study hard and become certified as mech designers by the MTA."
However, how easy was it to do so? Many mech design students actually dropped out during their grueling years of study. For someone with much less intelligence and much less opportunities to catch up to mech designers might take at least two or three decades.
And what then?
A fifty-year old Novice Mech Designer possessed absolutely no career prospects in the brutal and competitive mech industry.
The only other way they could become something greater than a faceless tech was to become handier with machinery than others and acquire a lot of leadership and administration skills. Once they demonstrated their superiority in terms of getting mech technicians to do as they were told, they stood a good chance at obtaining the certification that upgraded their status.
A chief technician interacted directly with mech designers and possessed a lot of say in terms of how to run a workshop and their crew of mech technicians.
However, no matter how much power they wielded, chief technicians couldn't escape the fact that they were essentially jumped-up mech technicians.
"It's no surprise that some people treat them like slaves. Free or not, they essentially serve the same purpose."
The way the Swordmaidens and the rest treated mech technicians and perhaps mech designers reminded him to be vigilant whenever he stepped into the frontier. Even with the Flagrant Vandals as a shield, Ves still didn't feel very safe in this region of space.
Though his fears frightened him, a small part of him actually relished it. Back in civilized space, Ves always tangled with the fact that he was but one among many mech designers. It was impossible for any single mech designer to stand out from the market unless they became a Senior Mech Designer who already developed a hint of true uniqueness in their design traits.
Reaching this point was way too distance to Ves.
On the other hand, Ves felt as if his recent experiences had brought him increasingly closer to advancing to become a Journeyman Mech Designer. His continued insights cleared up most of the fog surrounding this difficult advancement process.
Ves feared no challenge. He only feared not knowing the way, so the removal of all the fog did him a favor.
Right now, he faced a dilemma of sorts. Of the three fundamental requirements to advance to Journeyman, he was already steaming ahead in terms of shaping and maturing his nascent design philosophy. He also learned more than enough to satisfy the knowledge requirement.
The only sticking point to him was that he possessed few opportunities to increase his utilization of his existing Skills. However, none of the work on his plate sufficiently challenged him to the point where he needed to pull all the stops.
"Also, I somehow fell back into the old trap of hoarding new knowledge again." He shook his head.
He knew that his current studies in ultracompact batteries and stealth technology formed a not entirely welcome detour in his goal to advance as quickly as possible.
Nonetheless, he believed that taking this detour now rather than later would save him a lot of grief, and possibly even his life. With disaster lurking everywhere in the frontier, improving his personal capabilities came first. He could think about advancement after he secured his life!