The Mech Touch Chapter 718

716 Influence Game

All jokes aside, she at least appeared fired up. Having lit a fire in her mind, Ves knew that he had just moved past the hardest part to guiding her on the right part.

She cared about her family! She would do anything for the Swordmaidens, and hammering home the assertion that she'd be a lot more helpful to them as a Journeyman rather than a Novice should be enough to set her on the right path.

As for her idle boast of becoming his girlfriend if she managed to advance to Journeyman within two decades, Ves simply treated it as nonsense.

After fobbing her off by throwing another assignment at her, Ves reflected on his progress with the excitable young woman. His trial to see if he made a good mech designer designer started to bear some promising results. Ketis finally started to shape up to become a proper mech designer and it only took near-constant hand holding to get to that point.

He frowned at that. "It's fine to spend so much time and effort on a single mech designer if I want to bring up a protege, but I can't keep repeating these one-on-one tutoring sessions all the time. It eats way too much of my time."

Then he thought back to Master Olson and how her assistant Horatio took care of the trivial matters in her stead.

"That's it! Why do I have to do everything myself? I can implement a hierarchy!"

Ves already intended to establish a design team for his company once the Mech Corps booted him back to civilian life. He'd be willing to guide, shape and design his first couple of mech designers, but at some point it became a waste of his precious time.

In such situations, he'd be better off if he designed a set of principles he expected his mech designers to adhere to. In the meantime, he could foist the actual responsibility of indoctrinating his new recruit to a capable second of his own.

He frowned again. "Indoctrination is such a nasty word, yet it has its uses. I always knew the line between teaching and indoctrination is blurred. To think I've become guilty of the very behavior I've condemned!"

Wrestling with the research papers written by self-important academics who believed they understood the ultimate truths of reality left him with a very foul taste to their pervasive manipulative tricks. Yet suddenly he realized that Ves had actually taken a page out of their books and applied some of those insidious tricks on his innocent student!

It turned out he learned much more than scientific knowledge from studying those research papers!

"Damnit!" He cursed to himself. "The mental contamination must have gotten to me. I've become just like them despite my confidence in my methods!"

He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster.

If you gaze into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

He knew the risks. He always expected to be marked by what he experienced. Was it no surprise that Ves took note of the best practices among the lead authors of the research papers he read and applied them to his own needs?

What was wrong about borrowing some dirty tricks when he benefited from them? Besides, he harbored no harmful intentions to Ketis. He merely wanted to accelerate her learning process and skip over all of the boring stuff that would force her to lose her interest.

Okay, he admitted it. His teaching approach to Ketis basically consisted of indoctrinating her to his views on mech design. Not all of it, but enough to pull her into his camp.

At a proper university or institution, they could afford to let the students become familiar with the issues slowly enough for them to make their own judgement about their values and principles. Debates, self-reflection and witnessing many examples allowed every mech designer to shape their perspective on mech design on their own terms with only a varying amount of bias for the predominant viewpoint of their schools.

Yet Ves did not have the luxury to wait for Ketis to crawl forward one shuffle at a time. He basically picked her up and threw her into a path he had already chosen out for her without her say so. Of course, even if he received Mayra's implicit consent that he could shape Ketis' view of the profession, he did the young woman a major disservice by stripping her of the right to choose her own future.

Something like that rankled the MTA, who generally aimed to foster a diverse and eclectic community of mech designers, within limits of course.

Ves rationalized his actions as something that at least benefited Ketis compared to the old status quo. "If I didn't indoctrinate her, she would have continued to be a confused little girl who doesn't know a thing about what she wants to do in the future. At least I've lit up a fire in her drive. What path she treads shouldn't matter as long as she keeps going forward."

Teaching turned out to be harder than he thought. Being responsible for designing a mech designer meant that Ves could either take the time to allow his students to make up their own mind, or force them forward in his chosen direction to speed up their maturation process.

Again, it came down to time, and how valuable it was the less he had at his disposal.Find authorized novels in Webnovel,faster updates, better experience,Please click for visiting.

"I guess that's why the MTA is so adamant about schools. A minimum of four years of dedicated study in an environment that's uniquely suitable to foster mech designers is the best environment to raise a rounded mech designer that can think for themselves."

However, the abundant freedom of thought at those institutions also led to a lot of indecision. Mech designers surrounded by different perspectives couldn't make up their minds on which paths they should follow. This left them stranded at the starting line for so long that inertia solidified them in place, ending their careers after an extensive period of stagnation.

If only they enjoyed more guidance. Even if it came in the form of indoctrination, it was better than nothing.

In short, the act of teaching left the student at the mercy to the teacher.

"This is why the student-teacher relationships are so strictly defined in the mech industry." He realized, and on this, Ves agreed with the MTA. "It's too easy to abuse this relationship. I can make or break a mech designer. I can turn them into a self-sufficient machine or an unknown slave who is highly dependent on me. It all depends on my approach and my methods."

Ketis should thank herself that Ves still possessed some principles on this matter. Not only did he aspire to become a serious teacher, he also made a deal with Mayra that he didn't intend to renege.

He understood now on a practical level why so many Seniors and Masters became teachers and professors at various institutions. It allowed them to come into touch with a large amount of rough gems that they could gently shape into their future supporters.

"It's an influence game. Even if the graduates don't come and work for you, they'll still be acting as an extension of your ideology!"

This might be one of the ways in which a teacher propagated an unpopular or controversial design philosophy.

He saw something similar in the research papers related to ultracompact energy storage. Former students and proteges to older authors published their own papers in support of their teachers. Ves recognized their connection because the former students came from the same institutions, or roped in their old teachers as contributors.

Ves even encountered a research paper that involved up to four generations of teachers and students! Some old geezer who was several hundred years old taught another geezer who was a couple hundred years old who taught a genius who just reached a hundred years old who taught another prodigy who recently became fifty years old!

"That old man at the starts sits at the head of his own school of thought!"

These apex figures played the long game! Even Master Olson, who was practically a newborn in the mech industry, already instituted a formal hierarchy of subordinate mech designers.

Though Masters already realized their ambitious design philosophies by themselves, Ves guessed that the next step would be to popularize it and add their methods to the galactic standard on mech design!

"I don't know what that has to do with advancing to become a Star Designer, though." He scratched his head. "From what I can tell, a Star Designer is someone who transcends every previous boundary. They are such capable designers that their expertise is no longer limited to mechs! They can design practically anything!"

A Star Designer excelled in designing mechs, but they could easily branch out to designing starships and space stations even if they bore no relation to their design philosophy!

"Hmm, that's still too far for me to consider. I need to look back on my own situation."

Everyone who heard his design philosophy plainly believed he talked nonsense. Ves didn't blame them. You had to be really stupid or delusional to think mechs possessed an intrinsic quality of life.

Due to his secretive methods, he held no attraction to taking part in the influence game. Building up supporters would help him, but keeping them too close risked exposing his secrets.

For better or worse, Ves needed to withhold a large amount of secrets related to his design philosophy to himself. Yet where did that leave him in the future?

"Hmm. I'll probably have a harder time than others when I become a Senior. Yet that should change once I become a Master and prove my supposed crackpot theories are viable."

Even before that point, Ves should already prove himself to be capable of strengthening mechs beyond what their design and material composition suggested!

If everything went according to plan, mech designers would beg to become his student or subordinate!

Ves briefly indulged in fantasy, but such a future took decades or centuries to accomplish. Right now, he needed to focus on his more immediate priorities.

"Since I have a lot of free time on my hands, I should get to work on finishing my research on stealth tech."

He turned his attention back to his own preoccupations and left Ketis to stew on her own. Ves didn't wish to rush her forward now that she finally developed an inkling of passion. Having ignited the tinder, it still needed time for her fire to grow bigger. Right now, a single gust of wind could easily snuff out the smouldering flames.

As Ves poured himself into his other side project, the Flagrant Swordmaiden fleet journeyed on through FTL. Once they emerged into an inconsequential star system far away from the border to civilized space, they immediately encountered a possible threat in the system!

An alarm rang throughout every ship in the fleet!


Ves and Ketis already donned their full ensemble of armor and sat at their stations in the combat carrier's command center. This deep into the frontier, not a single Vandal or Swordmaiden took an FTL emergence lightly. A crisis could hit them at any moment, and the presence of a sandmen fleet within the system only vindicated their caution despite its distance from the Flagrant Swordmaidens.

Their hearts raced when they heard about the sandmen presence. Their fears only started to subside once the announcement informed them that the aliens were far from the inner system.

Nevertheless, they maintained their vigilance and remained at their action stations.

The sensor officer quickly looked up from his console. "Sir! Our long-range sensors have detected a debris field in the vicinity of an asteroid belt! The sandmen fleet is scouring through the debris field right now! Two unknown human fleets are also present at the debris field, and one seems to be chasing the other!"

"Which outfits do they come from!?"

"Unknown, sir! Their transponders are silent!"

"Then find it out as soon as possible!"

Minutes passed by as the long-ranged sensors resolved more data. Soon, a tentative picture emerged.

A three-way battle had occurred! The two unknown human fleets first bumped into each other. A fierce battle erupted that downed multiple ships and several mech companies worth off spaceborn mechs. At some point, a sandmen fleet set upon the combatants, scaring them off and forcing them to flee the valuable debris field and its untouched salvage!

The big question that hung on everyone's minds right now was whether the Flagrant Swordmaidens intended to intervene.