Chapter 44: Birth of a Mech
quot;Heya Ves. I know what youapos;re calling for. The deal has just been completed.quot; Marcella smirked as she said her next words. quot;Guess how much credits he threw at me to order your mech?quot;
quot;Did you manage to sell it at twenty-four million?quot;
quot;Hah! Thatapos;s chump change. Itapos;s much higher!quot;
quot;Nope.quot; Marcella gestured with her hands to bring up an invoice in the projector. quot;Look for yourself what magic I achieved.quot;
His eyes practically bulged out as he saw that Marcellaapos;s customer ordered his mech for a whopping twenty-eight million credits. The huge price figure amounted to a gross profit of eleven million credits if he delivered his mech in time and in good condition. It certainly raised his faith of Marcellaapos;s ability. Perhaps partnering with her was the best decision Ves ever made.
Marcella tapped her fingers onto her desk, snapping him out of his dreams. quot;Donapos;t get too excited buddy. Running a mech business isnapos;t a casual undertaking. You have to properly plan for your expenses. If you factor in your interest payments, your tax burden, your capital assets depreciation, then youapos;ll find that your net profits is a lot smaller than you thought.quot;
The excitement in his eyes died down. She was right, of course. quot;Well, my taxes will at least be lightened. The planetary government is already processing my preferable treatment status. I should be able to get my tax rate reduced to fifteen percent.quot;
Such a low tax rate was very favorable to Ves already. If he setup his business in Bentheim, then heapos;d have to fork out thirty-five percent even with preferable treatment.
quot;Your expenses and other burdens are lower than most other mech designers, but donapos;t forget your business is a one-man show. Your scale canapos;t compared to most small-to-medium enterprises that have based themselves in Bentheim for years. The industry revolves around a minimum amount of scale production. If you want to improve your mechs, you need better machines, and that means you have to start saving money now.quot;
Ves nodded, understanding the importance of what she said. His 3D printer and assembler were good for a decade, maybe two if he stretched it and installed some upgrades, but eventually he wanted to move up to using more capable machines worth billions of credits.
quot;Iapos;ve got so many things to spend my money on.quot; Ves lamented to himself. Earning a couple of billion credits was a pipedream for most people. Even seasoned mech designers often despaired at the costs their businesses demanded.
quot;In any case, just do your work. Iapos;ll be expecting a satisfactory result within ten days if you want to ship your mech to the client in time. Will you be able to make it in that time?quot;
He nodded with confidence. His planning stretched out the fabrication process to nine days already, which was a lengthy time for an average mech. Considering it was his first time doing it for real, he wanted to slow down and produce each part with meticulous care.
quot;Iapos;ll have the mech delivered to the local branch of the MTA within nine days for inspection if thereapos;s no problems. I donapos;t expect any delays, but I doubt Iapos;ll get slowed down more than a day at most.quot;
quot;There. Now it should work as advertised.quot;
The rest of the internal frame components got produced without a hitch. Since night had already fallen, Ves took a break and took care of his personal needs.
The next day, he devoted his attention to crafting the HRF armor plating. It took three days to process the raw materials into a suitable form if Ves aimed for consistency and precision. While most of the work was tedious and repetitive, he was constantly on guard for any deviations from the norm. A percentage less of a certain metal added to a process might ruin the entire batch.
He refined tons of materials together into different materials, which got processed even further for up to five times. Each step transformed the main alloys from a worthless piece of junk to a less worthless piece of junk. By the time several days had gone past, the mixed materials had already transformed into smooth pieces of shaped plating.
Ves knocked his knuckles against the surface of a thick chest plate. It rang with the delightful tone of a uniform piece of metal. He spent a lot of time fashioning these plates, each into the appropriate form to clad the Marc Antonyapos;s outer layer. They still looked greyish brown, the native color of HRF plating. Heapos;d add some color later.
The next two days he produced the other parts of the mech. The most important of which were the power reactor and the engines. His 3D printer had some trouble producing the most unique sections of those components, but Ves was able to stave off any disasters due to his improved skills and his abundant experience in producing them already inside Iron Spirit. He only really paid attention to the challenging components, and produced the easier ones with a little bit more leisure, though he always made sure to double-check their integrity.
quot;Damn, six days have gone by already. I only have two days to put my mech together.quot;
He could produce the entire Marc Antony inside Iron Spirit with that much time. Hopefully, once he got more familiar with his equipment, heapos;d speed up his production process to match his capabilities in the game. For now, slow and steady was the way to go.
From a haphazard pile of components, the mech slowly came to life. Ves started putting together its internal frame, which formed its skeleton. This was the simplest part of the assembly process as the internal frame components were built as puzzle pieces that snapped into place with each other with natural ease.
Once the skeleton was fixed into place, Ves started to add the essential organs to the frame. The engines, power reactor, energy cells, sensors and most importantly the cockpit were put into place one by one. They fit into their assigned places like obedient soldiers falling into parade.
The trickiest segment of the assembly process came when Ves installed the cabling. Though not as difficult as doing it for the Caesar Augustus, he sometimes had to resort to pushing or hammering certain sections in place.
quot;This is not supposed to happen at all. I guess it was wishful thinking for my 3D printer to produce all of the parts within tolerance.quot;
It might not be a big deal if part A came out of the printer half a millimeter thicker or so. But when parts C, F, J, Y and more all exhibited variations in their dimensions, then they could cause a chain reaction of misalignment when he assembled them all together into one machine. Fortunately for Ves, the deviations were within an acceptable range. Besides some squirming, he managed to fit the components decently together.
quot;Maybe itapos;s not a bad thing this mech is not a carbon copy of its blueprint. The variations makes it unique. Just like each and every human is different from each other.quot;
Heartless fabricators detested deviations like this, but in the perspective of life, Ves thought it was not a completely bad thing to keep some eccentricities. Naturally, it was one thing to be a little strange, but if you were born full of defects then Ves would never be able to sell the mech.
After making sure the components still worked at peak efficiency, Ves moved on to the final touches. He placed the many pieces of armor in their designated positions. Countless robotic arms picked up pieces of plating and carefully aligned them before placing them together. Special screws and adhesives kept them in place. He also put together the mechapos;s default armament, the mace and heavy tower shield. Assembling the latter was a tiresome ordeal due to the sheer amount of plates stacked into one single whole.
All the components came into place near the end of his two day marathon. Ves sighed in relief as he hit the button to let the painter module of the assembler go to work. He was way too tired to coat and paint the mechapos;s outer layer by himself. Screwing up the coating mattered very little to him anyway.
Once a few hours passed by, the advanced coating dried out rapidly, leaving the dark, intimidating form of a mech Ves had spent many hours imagining its appearance. Having spent more than eight days pouring his heart, focus and even love into its production, Ves felt an unprecedented surge of pride and satisfaction well up deep inside of him. His dreams had come true. He fabricated a mech of his own design with his own two hands. His eyes welled up in tears as he admired the tall and armored mechapos;s domineering contours. He refused to believe no one would remain unaffected when they came close to this mech for the first time.
Furthermore, the gemstoneapos;s pilot-focused attribute also allowed Ves to hide its benefits from the MTA. Ves had no good way to explain how a mech was able to move 0.5% faster or could withstand lasers 1% better than the HRF plating was designed to take on. Before Ves could acquire better skills that could camouflage such benefits, Ves found it prudent to stick to subtle gemstones and keep the ones with material benefits for later use.
quot;Enough dreaming. Itapos;s time to ready this mech for sale. First up, Iapos;ll have to certify the Phoenix Cry.quot;
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