Chapter 28: Preparation
quot;The juggernaut blasted half the walls of the military base apart. It set up a panic in our team. Frankly, the only reason why we lasted so long after the juggernaut entered the field was because its pilot went drunk with power. He destroyed half his team with all the collateral damage he caused.quot;
The two spoke about the performance of the Marc Antony, and how Melinda found it to be a good mech despite its many faults. quot;It doesnapos;t have a good place on the front lines due to its scattered strengths. Itapos;s not quite a knight, not quite a striker and its pitiful launchers donapos;t give the mech a lot of long-ranged firepower.quot;
quot;Well, Iapos;m only working with the tools I have. Frankly, if I could replace the mace and shield with something sturdier, Iapos;m sure the mech would perform just as well as the Caesar Augustus.quot;
quot;Sadly, thatapos;s not an option if I want to keep costs and complexity under control.quot; Ves shook his head. quot;Iapos;ve anticipated most of the issues youapos;ve mentioned, but theyapos;re kind of built into the fundamental design of the mech. Iapos;m not aiming to replace the Caesar Augustus. I just want to deliver an affordable variant that can perform well in smaller engagements.quot;
Melinda nodded. quot;Iapos;m certainly impressed with the mech. I kind of want to replace my patrol mech with it, but I know the pencil pushers in the Guard wonapos;t allow such a thing. It doesnapos;t have the endurance.quot;
After the conversation ended, Ves put the finishing touches on his second handmade mech and sent it off to be sold in the market.
quot;Letapos;s see my progress so far.quot;
Name: Ves Larkinson
Profession: Novice Mech Designer
Design Points: 235
Neural Aptitude: F
[Assembly]: Apprentice - [3D Printer Proficiency I] [Assembler Proficiency I]
[Computer Science]: Incompetent
[Electrical Engineering]: Novice
[Mechanics]: Apprentice - [Jury Rigging I] [Speed Tuning I]
[Physics]: Novice - [Lightweight Armor Optimization I] [Mediumweight Armor Optimization I]
Evaluation: Almost reached the standards of an apprentice mech designer.
His stats hadnapos;t changed much since the last time he viewed it. His concentration had gained 0.1 points again due to his single-minded focus in mastering the Marc Antony. Besides sleeping, eating, bathroom rituals and taking short breaks to reset his mood, he spent all his time fabricating the Marc Antony.
His DP counter remained stubbornly stagnant, further indicating that the sales potential for his Fantasia variants had reached the bottom of the well. Much of his DP came from the two Marc Antonyapos;s sold so far. They offered much more for a single sale due to their higher value.
quot;It doesnapos;t look like my Marc Antony model will catch fire.quot; Ves noted disappointingly. quot;With only a little more than a week left until the YTE, I wonapos;t be able to increase my sub-skills or attributes in any meaningful way.quot;
Selling a mech that priced at 24 million credits was much easier than one that demanded more than double the amount. It cost 45 million credits in total to cover the raw materials for the Caesar Augustus. The materials for the Augustusapos; proprietary armor plating cost 38 million credits alone, and Ves lacked the facilities required to process exotic materials into advanced armor plating.
quot;If I do my business through the MTA, I wonapos;t need to worry about the authenticity of the advance payment. My customers will also receive some assurance from the organisation.quot;
Though Ves had not yet bought anything from the market, he pre-registered his purchase list in order to notify the sellers of those materials that he might buy them soon. It was nothing more than a notification, but the sellers might prepare for the sale by making sure they had the materials in their inventory and could ship them to the Bright Republic.
quot;The Bright Republic is small, so shipping times arenapos;t so bad as long as I can find each material in the domestic market.quot;
Ves tracked down each material and was relieved there were no problems on that end. With the ultra-fast shipping capabilities of a modern galactic civilization, shipping companies were able to transport all the materials stockpiled in Bentheim to Cloudy Curtain in just two days.
After that, he contacted the MTA to prepare the paperwork for his expected production. Once he signed some standard contracts and agreements with the MTA and the Bright Republic, a representative of the MTA called him in person. The representative invited Ves to go over the legal requirements of producing a mech in the Bright Republic.
quot;Your production license covers the permission to produce the weapons that come with the Caesar Augustus.quot; A representative from Bentheim explained over the comm. quot;However, you do not have permission to live-fire these weapons even in tests. Furthermore, you are not allowed to produce your own ordnance. This means you may not produce any missiles even if you have the capability to do so from your license.quot;
quot;What about the wrist-mounted laser cannons? Theyapos;re technically operational as soon as they come off the 3D Printer. I just need to plug them to an energy source.quot;
The representative swiped a couple of designs to Ves. quot;You need to add safeties during the fabrication process that seals the energy weapons. The files I just sent are small presets for your 3D printer. They will automatically incorporate the most optimal safeties to any weapons you produce, but you should always double-check them manually.quot;
quot;Will do. I have one final question. Could you tell me if my design has any appeal to the market?quot;
The man from the association smiled. quot;We are always ready to offer advice to young entrepreneurs. As for your variant, it is highly unusual to offer an economy variant of an extremely advanced frame such as the Caesar Augustus. The Augustus already has a small demand. Since you have replaced its armor in your design, thus taking away the biggest merit of that particular model, I cannot be certain whether any potentate is willing to invest in your new concept. There is no existing demand for this kind of product, so you should diligently work on your marketing in order to create demand.quot;
quot;Understood. I donapos;t have anymore questions, so goodbye.quot;
quot;Have a nice day.quot;
In other words, Ves had to market his design from the ground up. He couldnapos;t steal any customers from the pilots interested in the base model because they were unwilling to buy an inferior version when they had the money for the real thing.
Ves should target pilots with less generous bank accounts, but those pilots usually bought dependable front line models, not discounted advanced mechs. These two categories differed significantly in terms of endurance, maintenance cost and overall longevity. Regular front line mechs were built to last.
quot;Iapos;ll cross that bridge when I get there.quot;
For the remainder of the time, Ves kept diligently producing the Marc Antony in his virtual workshop. He accumulated a decent amount of experience in fabricating the most troublesome parts, and with his deep knowledge of the frame and its base model he felt confident he could fabricate a functioning mech with his own equipment.
The days passed quickly. The day of departure arrived. The Bright Republic offered free transportation to Bentheim for all contestants. As a one of many participants to the annual Young Tigers Exhibition, Ves joined the crowd of hopeful pilots at the spaceport while holding Lucky to his chest and leading a floating luggage carrier carrying his clothes and other stuff.
quot;Man, I donapos;t know why Iapos;m even coming. Only Grant has a shot of reaching the top 10.quot; A young graduate complained.
quot;What do you know?quot; A tall and heavyset pilot said with a sneer. quot;If you manage to reach the top 200, youapos;ll easily be able to land a job at a reputable mercenary corps. Iapos;m not talking about the 5 or 10 man shows, Iapos;m talking about the real deal, like Pritchardapos;s Bannermen or the Red Bishops.quot;
quot;Seriously? No wonder my uncle wanted me to participate.quot;
quot;The YTE not only showcases our generationapos;s talent to the Republic, it also acts as a job fair. Plenty of employers are watching the show. If they like a pilot, they donapos;t hesitate to offer a contract. My brother landed a spot with the Crossmen that way.quot;
The idle chatter of the potentates unintentionally revealed many useful things to Ves. Besides the government and the Mech Corps, he could also expect a lot of mercenaries to attend. Their main purpose was to look for fresh blood to replenish their ranks. It was questionable whether theyapos;d be open to buy a new mech. Ves had his work cut out for him in the next couple of days.
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