Chapter 8: Visitor
quot;Really, what am I paying so much crap for? I thought advertisements are supposed to work!quot;
He only had twenty days left to complete the Systemapos;s mission of selling a hundred virtual mechs. So far, Ves only managed to sell his handcrafted Fantasia 2R Seraphim. That meant the other mechs he sold lacked his personal care and attention. Not only did their specs degrade, they also sold for twice its already ludicrous price.
When Ves visited the Seraphimapos;s store page, he encountered hundreds of disparaging comments.
quot;8800 gold XD! Do you lack a few brain cells? Are you autistic? Then go ahead and buy this gold-plated piece of turd!quot;
quot;Can anyone lend me 8700 gold? I promise to pay you back once I dominate the arena. No one can withstand my secret weapon of crapping rainbows!quot;
quot;DONapos;T BUY THIS MECH! This is an over-engineered piece of shit that simply slaps a lot of extra parts together. Just buy a real flying mech instead!quot;
With comments like these splattered over his mech, no wonder he couldnapos;t make an additional sale. Ves had learned a valuable but expensive lesson with this experience.
quot;I lost sight of my target audience. I thought I could have slapped a lot of components together without consequence. But the Bronze Leaguers are mostly a bunch of kids with little gold and credits to spare.quot;
1-Star Mechs acted as training wheels in the game. As training tools, most potentates didnapos;t bother to make an emotional connection to the mechs they piloted, considering them to be horribly outdated. The Bronze Leaguers paid more attention to the amount of performance they could squeeze at a given price.
It was a good thing he hadnapos;t spent the rest of his time in vain. Other than stuffing Lucky with ores, he also extensively reworked the Fantasia 2R into a new variant. It had been his most major project to date, flexing all of his new skills to his limit, especially the Light Armor Optimization sub-skill.
The new Fantasia variant sported complete matte gray armor plating. Ves had painstakingly removed its original armor plating and replaced them with the newer and more efficient Mirin-21 Ultralight Armor Plating. To retain and even improve the mechapos;s durability, Ves had to recalculate every plateapos;s profile and thickness, bulking up the mech in many areas. Despite the increase in armor, the mechapos;s weight still enjoyed a considerable reduction, making it faster and nimbler on the ground.
Ves felt highly satisfied with his work so far. He appreciated the miraculous powers of the System for allowing him to get accustomed to such amazing procedures in a matter of days instead of months.
In a good mood and prompted by his rich creativity, he even added in the Fayette ECM and the Festive Cloud Generator onto the custom mechapos;s head. In keeping up with a ghost theme, he set the clouds to generate only greyscale colors, nicknaming the mech the Phantasm.
[Design Evaluation: Fantasia 2R Phantasm.]
Variant name: Fantasia 2R Phantasm
Base model: Fantasia 2R
Original Manufacturer: Kezia Armaments
Weight Classification: Light
Recommended Role: Scout/Ambusher
Carrying Capacity: F+
[Assembly]: Novice - [3D Printer Proficiency I]
[Computer Science]: Incompetent
[Mechanics]: Apprentice - [Jury Rigging I] [Speed Tuning I]
[Physics]: Novice - [Lightweight Armor Optimization I]
Evaluation: Should pursue a career in designing space shuttles.
Ves shook his head. quot;It sounds safe, but itapos;s too slow for me. I want to make a name for myself as a mech designer, not a technician or repairman. Most star designers start their career young.quot;
quot;That doesnapos;t mean you have to follow their footsteps. Without a formidable background like wealth or connections, you donapos;t possess the qualifications to enter a cutthroat business like selling mechs.quot;
He wanted to tell Melinda that she was wrong. Ves did enjoy a background advantage. His fatherapos;s Mech Designer System had given him a lot of help and could be counted on to help him find his footing in the business. But he couldnapos;t mention it to his cousin. The System was strange and unique, and Ves might lose his life if others wanted to rob this advantage.
quot;Melinda, I understand where youapos;re coming from, but I chose to shoulder the risks. This is my fatherapos;s legacy, after all. He gave up his home, his savings and even his personal mech to scrounge up the loans to fund this little workshop. At worst, Iapos;ll just be declared bankrupt and the assets will get taken away a little later. Itapos;s not shameful for an entrepreneur to suffer a bankruptcy. At least Iapos;ll be content to know I tried.quot;
His cousin sighed, but didnapos;t press on. quot;I thought youapos;d choose to do so. I guess the only thing I can bring back to the family is to tell them about your resolve. Grandpa also told me that if you decided to stay this course, heapos;ll lean on the bank to make sure they donapos;t pull any dirty tricks.quot;
quot;Thanks. It helps out a lot if I donapos;t have to worry about the bank changing its terms. Iapos;m confident I can work this out on my own. I already have some plans in the works.quot;
quot;Oh? Can you show me some of your work?quot;
Ves brought his cousin to the working area of the shop. He activated the terminal and logged into his Iron Spirit designer account.
quot;Iapos;ve been trying to make a name for myself as a designer in the game. Iapos;ve made a deal with... eh, I canapos;t say who. I only need to do well and sell enough virtual mechs to receive some additional start-up resources for my real business. Let me show you my two latest designs.quot;
The Seraphim awed his cousin for its graceful appearance. She grinned and pinched Vesapos; cheek.
quot;So you started to fiddle with the Fantasia, huh? Do you need me to introduce you to some ladies I know?quot;
quot;Melindaaaaa! Iapos;m not a kid anymore. So other than its gender, tell me what you think about my mech.quot;
quot;Hm, The Seraphim showcases your fundamentals. Youapos;ve impressed me with how decently you incorporated all of the components together. While Iapos;m not too familiar with the Fantasia chassis anymore, Iapos;m sure it performs decently in the air. Itapos;s just..quot;
quot;Yeah, I know. It costs a fortune for a 1-Star light mech.quot;
quot;At least your Phantasm looks impressive.quot; Melinda commented as she browsed through the specs sheet. quot;Iapos;m not a technician, but even I can see youapos;ve worked hard reworking its armor. This is really solid work. If I was still in Bronze Iapos;d definitely give it a spin.quot;
quot;Whatapos;s your current league?quot;
quot;Iapos;ve been in Platinum for a while. I can break into Diamond if I work hard.quot;
Reaching Diamond rank at her age would be an impressive feat. Only freaks of nature and nurtured aristocratic elites could boast such an accomplishment. Sometimes Ves felt that his mech piloting talent had gone over to Melinda. The universe wasnapos;t fair sometimes.
Melinda noticed Vesapos; expression and flicked his forehead. quot;Hey, no need for those thoughts. You might not have inherited all of your fatherapos;s genes, but you definitely have his heart. Besides, Iron Spirit is just a game. Many of my colleagues in the Bentheim Planetary Guard donapos;t even take it seriously. When you make a living piloting and fighting with the real thing, a game just feels too fake.quot;
Nodding, Ves agreed with her words. quot;I know. Designing mechs in Iron Spirit is just a springboard for my real universe business. If I manage to achieve enough sales, I can receive a grant of some sorts.quot;
quot;Iapos;ll be sure to recommend your models to the munchkins back home.quot; Melinda smiled as she thought of pinching the faces of her cute little nieces and nephews.
The Larkinsons werenapos;t exactly unified like real aristocratic families, but they kept in touch even as they spread out over many planets in the Republic. The younger generation often met up and played together, if not in person then in Iron Spirit.
Being left out of many of these circles due to lacking the aptitude to pilot a mech had distances Ves a little from the peers of his age. Melinda was one of the few who kept a proactive friendship with him. It was times like these when he faced some difficulties did Ves realize how much family meant to him. A warm feeling embraced his heart and he gave his cousin another hug.
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