As much as Ves wanted to incorporate some offensive capabilities to his defensive mech, it looked unfeasible.
What Venerable Fontain of the Spiral Shockers achieved with the Phovon was beyond mortal reach.

”The mech will certainly undergo a huge amount of stress from such substantial collisions. ” Ves murmured has he continued to study the contents of the secure data pad.
”The design can only come so far in mitigating the incredible forces resulting from these destructive charges.
The materials need to be strong enough as well. ”

It didn ’t look hopeful for his super-medium space knight design.
While it could take a beating, it fared best against energy weapons.
The polarizing fields worked fantastic against lasers, but did not do enough to block the damage from ballistic or kinetic rounds.

This was a deliberate design choice to Ves.
Everyone knew that laser technology would be undergoing a significant jump in power in the next mech generation, so designing his mech to cope with laser weapons only made more sense, especially in space where laser weapons were ubiquitous.

Taking a direction against energy weapons left his design with some shortcomings against physical weapon.
Its complicated internal architecture did not lend itself too well against sustaining severe shocks to its frame.

While Ves found it regretful to leave such a weakness in his design, he could only take a single direction at a time.
Besides, a space knight design was already fairly robust, so it was no slouch when it came to absorbing physical damage.

”Mobility is another area where my space knight falters. ”

A regular space knight actually possessed quite a decent amount of mobility.
Their uncomplicated design and lack of weapon systems allowed them to dedicate more of their internal volume to powering a stronger flight system.

While this added capability didn ’t allow a space knight to keep up with a light skirmisher, it was sufficient to provide them with some offensive options.

Not so for his space knight.
It was just too big and with all the extra bells and whistles, it didn ’t leave enough room to fit a flight system that could keep up with the increase in mass.

In short, regardless of what Ves attempted to do, he couldn ’t escape the fact that he was essentially designing an obese medium mech when looking at its external appearance.

”My fatty mech ’s acceleration won ’t be able to keep up with all the other mechs in play.
It takes too much effort to lug around its fat here and there. ”

That relegated his fatty mech to a purely defensive role.

It was a shame to Ves that he couldn ’t make use of the offensive aspect of Venerable Fontain ’s kit, but he couldn ’t have everything.

A couple of hours went by as Ves delved in deeper into Venerable Fontain ’s record.
The favor provided by Professor Ventag substantially enriched his knowledge with regards to space knights.

He did not particularly lie when he said that it would be useful for him to know what space knights could do when taken to their limits.
The Phovon, Venerable Fontain ’s current expert mech, was a masterpiece in design.

Even though the redacted records were relatively sparse in its details, Ves ascertained that multiple Senior Mech Designers put a lot of effort in pooling their respective specialties together in developing such an exquisitely balanced space knight.

The Phovon ’s existence showcased the extensive involvement of the Bright Republic ’s Seniors into the design of its military mechs.
Expert mechs did not come about randomly, and their designs simply couldn ’t be bought from the galactic mech market.
They were too rare and tailored to individual expert pilots to be able to work well with others.

To be able to design an expert mech for an expert pilot was an immense privilege and a great opportunity.
It allowed mech designers to showcase their design ability in a project with much higher budgets and much fewer practical limitations on the use of expensive materials and components.

Yet Ves could only admire them from afar for the foreseeable time.
While it wasn ’t unheard of for Journeymen to design expert mechs, in practice the Mech Corps would rather turn to the best rather than the second-best to design their strategically important expert mechs.

At the end of the six-hour reading period, the data pad fizzled out.
The guards stepped into his quarters without warning and silently took the useless pad out of his grasp even though Ves could do nothing to restore its contents.

When the guards departed, Ves sighed and leaned back against his chair.
”Expert pilots are such amazing figures. ”

He witnessed the power and majesty of expert pilots first-hand on several occasions.
It was a shame that those glimpses were too infrequent.
Venerable O ’Callahan piloting the Parallax Star against the Frosty Meteors made the most striking impression to Ves.
That man dared to charge his expert lancer mech straight into the bow of a starship!

”If he wasn ’t so senile and close to death, he would have been able to showcase his power more often. ”

Venerable O ’Callahan ’s tragic case showcased the downside to pursuing a mech piloting career.
The mutated brain structure that enabled mech pilots to interface with their mechs through the man-machine connection made it difficult for them to extend their lives.
Just the first round of life-prolonging treatments geared specifically towards mech pilots was already far out of reach to most expert pilots.

It was different when it came to Journeyman Mech Designers.
As long as they worked hard enough and didn ’t fool around all day, they would eventually be able to scrounge up the money to undergo the first round of life-prolonging treatments.
It helped that they didn ’t have to pay as much as expert pilots because of their ’simpler ’ brain structures.

”To be an expert pilot is to earn glory and immortality through deeds.
Most don ’t grow older than a hundred-and-thirty years old, but what a fulfilling life they ’ve led! ” Ves said in admiration.
”To be a Journeyman Mech 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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