Designer is to slave away more than half of your extended life just so you can advance and gain enough earning power to purchase another century of lifespan. ”

Venerable Fontain was already middle aged and after a decade of service, old age would eventually catch up with him, deteriorating his mental agility to a point where it was best to thrown in the towel.

Cases like Venerable O ’Callahan who clung to any opportunity to pilot an expert mech was in fact very rare.
Most expert pilots already earned so much glory that they were content to retire on a high note.

Additionally, expert pilots weren ’t immune to loss and injury.
Each time they entered the battlefield, they risked coming back in pieces or not at all.
The Bright Republic fielded many expert pilots, but the Vesians were no slouch in this department either.
The main role of an expert pilot was to contain an enemy expert pilot!

”In any case, I know enough now about Venerable Fontain to start with the next phase. ”

This was the fateful moment.
He constructed an image around Venerable Fontain and felt no resistance.
The details he learned and the battles he witnessed allowed Ves to construct an imaginary facsimile of the expert pilot in his mind.

Ves took it slow.
He wanted to incorporate almost every detail about his piloting style except for his offensive tendencies.
In the best case, some of the skills of the expert pilot might just bleed through to the mech pilots of his fatty mechs through the X-Factor.

For some reason, forming the image did not feel very burdensome to Ves.
In fact, when he previously constructed the image of Qilanxo, he only felt a light burden as he bumped up against something unusual in the imaginary realm.

The lack of consequences despite drawing upon a living expert pilot as his inspiration caused Ves to halt before he combined the three images.
The lack of weight with regards to his current actions sparked some suspicions to Ves.
Was he actually using his technique to its full potential?

His intuition suggested no.

Ves frowned.
”What am I missing? ”

He experimentally poked around the totem animal and human myth in his mind.
They fell short of his expectations.
They were hardly different from the images invented from nothing out of his own imagination!

What was the point of drawing upon existing entities when Ves could conveniently design an artificial image from the ground up?

There had to be more.
Ves could feel it.
He just needed to employ the right technique.
Something which was hard to do since a convenient manual didn ’t exist.
As a pioneer in this domain of mech design, he needed to figure out everything by himself!

Ves halted his current spiritual actions and left the images separated in different corners of his mind while he tried to parse the logic of his current actions.

First, mechs and mech designs possessed a spiritual component that influenced the man-machine connection.
Ves called it the X-Factor.

Second, the X-Factor resulted from an alignment in spirit between the mech, mech pilot and mech designer.
As long as all three of them were of similar minds, the X-Factor exerted its maximum effect.

Third, Ves could consciously shape the X-Factor of his mech design by imbuing them with a spiritual imprint that he called images for convenience.
These images were ordinary imaginary creations from his mind, but due to the effects of his Spirituality he was able to breathe life into the images, making them more tangible and living.

Fourth, Ves did not have to base these images out of nothing.
He could draw upon existing entities, whether alive or dead.
The strongest proof of this assertion was when he made use of the spiritual fragment of a long-dead miniature crystal builder leader to form the principal part of the X-Factor for his Crystal Lord design.

He recalled the time he first came in touch with that spiritual fragment.
He came across some ruins and through some shenanigans, he obtained some objects including the corpse of the crystal builder leader that held the spiritual fragment.

Ves lit up his eyes.
”This is the key! ”

Back then, his ghostly mother drew upon the spiritual fragment with ease.
He remembered that she also taught him how to do it himself.

He was still upset that she stole the crystal leader ’s corpse and appropriated it for her own use, but he largely got over it.
As much as he tried to deny it in his mind, his heart already came around to the possibility that she was truly his mother rather than some alien ghost that adopted her identity.

Ves believed she was not who she seemed back when she was alive.
Both his mother and the System ’s origins appeared to be tied to the secretive but unimaginably powerful Five Scrolls Compact.

Even if he advanced to Journeyman, he was in no position to touch upon these topics.
Ves left this matter aside and turned his attention back to the advice his mother once imparted to him in their last meeting.

”Resonate with their desires. ”

In essence, Ves needed to commune with the inspiration of his images.
It was not enough to construct a facsimile of his impression of them in his mind.
A copy would always be a copy.
In order to make them true to life, Ves needed to take another step!

He developed a bold notion.
Why settle for copies when he could turn them into an offshoot of the originals? If he could figure out how to apply his mother ’s resonance technique, he ’d be able to borrow some of the spiritual essence of the originals and use it for his own ends!

What a brilliant method!

Yet… would it really be so easy to infringe upon the spiritual territory of a living expert pilot?

What about a more formidable entity like Qilanxo? Not only was she a lot stronger in the spirituality department, she was also incredibly far away.

While Ves believed that physical distance did not play a large role in the imaginary realm, he still needed to put this assumption to the test.

He breathed deeply and centered his mind while he made himself comfortable in his seat.
”There ’s only one way to find out. ”

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