It was all well and good for Ves to consider designing a space knight.
He already knew that they sold for quite a decent profit margin for that product or product margin for short as long as they caught on in the market.

Knight mechs were more expensive than other mechs at the same level of specs due to the high cost of armor.
The most expensive component of a mech by far was its armor plating.
The thicker the armor, the greater the cost.

However, this also allowed mech manufacturers to get away with charging more for knight mechs than say a light skirmisher.

The market expected knight mechs to be more expensive, ergo the mech companies obliged by collectively bumping up their prices despite the stiff competition.
Any mech that was cheaper than the predominant price levels were usually sold by small, struggling mech companies.

The danger in maintaining a thin product margin when selling something like a knight mech was that they became immensely vulnerable to fluctuations in the prices of raw materials needed to fabricate the armor system of the mech model.

Because armor factored so hugely in the production cost of a knight mech, a modest fluctuation in price could immediately double or outright wipe out the product margin of a knight mech model on the market!

Any small mech company that tried to sell knight mechs at a margin of five percent or less was really playing with fire!

In short, as long as Ves designed a good space knight that Professor Ventag subsequently elevated to a higher level of performance, it wouldn ’t be too difficult to introduce his new product at a product margin as high as forty percent!

His silver label Blackbeaks started selling at 65 million credits a piece when they initially came out.
With a production cost of around 45 million credits per mech, the Blackbeak ’s product margin was roughly thirty percent.

This was very high for a mech designed by a new entrant in the mech industry!

If Ves managed to succeed in achieving such a generous product margin with his first original mech design, then he held a sufficient amount of confidence that he could top that for his fourth original mech design.

Of course, the true cost picture of a mech model wasn ’t as simple as that.
Licensing costs, taxes, after-sales services and more all served to muddle up the profits generated from sales.

Even so, starting high was better than starting low.

Right now, Ves made a rough determination of the market demand for space knights.
According to Lord Javier, every mech force needed at least a couple to cover for their more vulnerable mechs.

”Space battles aren ’t my thing, but I ’ve trained for it in case I ever need to jump into the cockpit of a spaceborn mech. ” The noble stated as he stared down his empty mug of beer.
”Still, I ’ve hung around with enough mech pilots to know that every spaceborn mech force needs them.
On land, many mech companies can get away without bringing knight mechs because on most battlefield there ’s sufficient hard cover on land for mechs to take advantage of.
Many times, you don ’t get that luxury in space. ”

Spaceborn mech forces either had three choices there.

The first choice was that they could take the offensive and hit the enemy so hard and fast that they didn ’t become exposed to ranged fire.
Lancer mechs and light skirmishers came to mind.

The second choice was that they could fight around their much larger carrier vessels.
They could take advantage of their huge bulk to shield their more vulnerable mechs from enemy fire.

This was usually considered as a desperation move because carriers served as motherships to any spaceborn mech force.
Once a force lost a carrier, they lost the ability to move around a large amount of mechs! They became stuck and shackled in the star system the battle took place!

The third and most sustainable choice was to field a number of defensive space knights.
Space knights took advantage of a combination of formidable defensive power with decent mobility in space to offer continuous cover under changing circumstances.

The tactical flexibility they offered turned them into an indispensable mech type for most conventional spaceborn mech troops along with rifleman mechs.

In other words, this was a product category that always sold well and in relative large numbers.

A high and stable sales pattern as well as increased tolerance for higher price margins in the market all led to stiff competition, however.
Ves knew that his space knight design must be a truly exceptional piece of work in order to capture even a fraction of a percentage of this huge product category!

While Ves could rely on Professor Ventag ’s contribution in the joint project to push his design up to that standard, it depended heavily whether Ves could design a compelling mech of sufficient quality.

He had the confidence to design a good mech.
But did he have what it takes to design a compelling mech?

It depended on his creativity, imagination, inspiration and passion.

His Blackbeak design did not emerge from a whim.
Neither did his Crystal Lord design.
He came up with the visions for both mech designs when he became inspired by external influences.

This was the artistic side to mech design.
It didn ’t matter how skilled Ves was in the technical side of his profession.
Without a bountiful imagination, he could forget about crafting an exciting concept for his knight mech design.

Ves was not in an inspired mood right now.

He glanced towards Lord Javier who went on to order another mug of beer and decided that he wouldn ’t gain any inspiration from the man.

”Thanks for answering my questions.
I ’ll be off now. ”

”Keep me in the loop on your progress, Ves! ”

”Will do. ”

As Ves returned to his cabin on the Lormant Carnival, he began to consider his approach.
If he wanted to come up with an inspired concept for his mech, then he needed to stoke his passion somehow.

Thinking back to the past, Ves knew that he would get fired up to design a mech in two different instances.

The first instance would be when he came under intense pressure.
This always enabled him to exert his full potential during competitions and design duels when a lot was at stake.

The second instance was when he became inspired by a good story.

In fact, Ves always designed his mechs around stories.
Stories enlivened his mechs by breathing life into the images he conjured up in his mind with the Triple Division technique.

Of those instances where Ves made use of stories to enrich the spiritual essence of his designs, none were as effective as using stories that really took place!

”The Crystal Lord design is a shining example of this method! ”

In effect, the Crystal Lord was the result of blending reality with imagination.
By basing and anchoring the fantasies conjured up by his imagination with real elements, he gave them an easier path towards materializing them closer to reality!

By making use of the spiritual remnants and story of the leader of the miniature race of extinct crystal builders, Ves succeeded in designing his first mech with an X-Factor rated in the B-grade for the very first time!

If Ves wanted to justice to himself, the LMC and Professor Ventag ’s faith in his ability to design a mech, then he needed to at least match his previous high point in his career.
Making use of real individuals and real history would be a good starting point.

”A real story, huh? ”

Ves experienced a lot of harrowing adventures and ordeals ever since the war broke out.
His time with the Flagrant Vandals left a strong and indelible mark on him, sometimes for the worse but often times for the better.

No matter how mixed he felt about the journey to the Aeon Corona System and the mission to uncover the treasures of the fallen Starlight Megalodon, he was never quite the same when he came back.

He idly chuckled as he sat behind his terminal in his cabin.
He hadn ’t turned it on because he couldn ’t do much with it anyway with his current authorizations.

While he suffered through many awful situations, it wasn ’t always bad.
He witnessed new wonders, outsmarted several enemies and managed to come back alive with plentiful treasures, the most important of which fixed the many flaws on his hybrid alien physique and improved its overall parameters.

Ves wanted to commemorate his time with the Flagrant Vandals by designing a mech that embodied an aspect of that unforgettable adventure!

”I ’ve witnessed many exciting battles and strange events, but which ones are relevant to space knights or knight mechs? ”

Not so much, at least on the top of his head.
Ves tried to go over instances related to defensive mechs and only came up with a couple of examples that didn ’t really inspire him that much.

”Perhaps the most defining moment took place we tried to pass through the Venidse Duchy. ”

A detachment of the Frosty Meteors of the Venidsan mech legions cornered the Verle Task Force some time after departing from the Detemen System after a successful raid.

What struck Ves the most was that despite their lack of numbers, the heavy-armored mechs of the Frosty Meteors inexorably closed in on the stranded fleet of the Flagrant Vandals!

No matter how much firepower the Vandal mechs unleashed on the Venidsan mechs, the Frosty Meteors endured an incredible amount of damage!

If not for Venerable O ’Callahan moving into action and whittling down the incredibly sturdy mechs of the Frosty Meteors one by one, as well as the sacrificial mobbing tactic employed by the Vandals at the end, they might have never been able to survive their escape from the Vesia Kingdom!

The Flagrant Vandals didn ’t survive this disastrous crisis unscatched.
Half of their spaceborn mech pilots lost their lives and even more mechs got wrecked or sustained heavy damage.
If not for their subsequent recovery at the Harkensen System, the spaceborn mech contingent of the Flagrant Vandals would have never been able to stand up on their own two feet again!

This story contained a strong emotional attachment to Ves.
Yet would it be appropriate for him to use the events of this battle as the basis of his fourth original mech design?

Ves shook his head.
”We beat the enemy, but lost almost just as much.
A pyrrhic victory is not a victory to be proud of.
Besides, the enemy earned all of the glory for their bold and enduring approach. ”

The Vandals only won that battle because they outnumbered the small detachment of Frosty Meteors and made use of that advantage in the stupidest and most destructive way possible.

He discarded this battle and tried to come up with other memories that cast a better on his experiences.

After fifteen minutes of daydreaming, he suddenly sat up straight in his chair.
”Of course! When it comes to showcasing the power of defense, how can I forget about that big lovable lizard! ”

The misguided attack of the Sacred Gods of the Eastern Samar Pantheon on the ground forces of the Flagrant Vandals nearly wiped out the latter.

Nobody from the Vandals including Ves ever expected Qilanxo ’s incredibly strong space barrier to be able to withstand a half a mech regiment ’s worth of ranged bombardment!

In the end, the Flagrant Vandals cheated and dropped a couple of overloaded power reactors that blew up with the force of a tactical nuclear weapon to overload that ridiculously resilient and enduring space barrier!

Witnessing such an amazing capacity from a primitive exobeast instead of some highly advanced device from the CFA left a strong impression in his mind.
Ves ’ eyes lit up as he realized that this event might serve as a good base for his vision for his space knight!

Even though Qilanxo was a land exobeast and the battle happened firmly on heavy gravity soil, it was the spirit that counted.
Ves wanted to draw upon the impression of invincibility and defensive supremacy displayed by the mighty Qilanxo.

Best of all, unlike the earlier example, Ves and the Flagrant Vandals eventually made up with Qilanxo.

How strong would his space knight design become if he became inspired by her example?

”It ’s not possible for me to implement an actual space barrier as a defensive measure for my upcoming space knight design. ” Ves conceded.

However, what kind of effect would Ves be able to achieve when he incorporated such a strong phenomenon in the imaginary realm?

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