Ves swore the Mech Designer ’s Oath in front of the bottomless well and uncomfortably close to a contained mass of antimatter.

He was sure there was a lot of symbolism behind this arrangement, but the meaning of it escaped him at the moment.

The android recited the oath for Ves to repeat.
To his credit, he swore the oath as sincerely as possible.
Overall, the oath was rather plain and condensed many of the MTA ’s core principles.

”…I swear to put my mech design abilities at the disposal of mech pilots, and never attempt to place myself above them.
I will do my best to reward their trust in me by designing sound mechs that mech pilots can entrust their lives to in battle.
I will never steal or claim credit for any achievements made by mech pilots who pilot my mechs… ”

”…I swear to present my mechs to mech pilots and other clients in a truthful manner.
I will not employ deceptive practices that obfuscate or exaggerate the actual performance of my works.
I will always explain my mechs in a manner which mech pilots can understand, and avoid confusing them with an excessive amount of technical jargon… ”

”…I swear that I will respect the contributions of my fellow mech designers.
I will not steal, borrow or make use of their methods unless I properly credit their sources.
If my work is a derivative of another mech designer ’s work, I will accept any arrangements made by the MTA to properly remunerate the original mech designer or developer.
In no circumstance will I ever plagiarize the works of others… ”

”…I swear to abide by the rights and responsibilities of galactic citizenship.
As a responsible galactic citizen, I will respect the rights and responsibilities of other galactic citizens… ”

That last part was very peculiar to Ves.
While he swore to abide by a bunch of rules whenever he interacted with a galactic citizen, his oath did not obligate him to do anything special towards those who didn ’t enjoy this status.

What this basically meant was that Ves could kill a bunch of space peasants and the MTA probably wouldn ’t care!

Ves couldn ’t help but think back to the Aeon Corona Mission.
Back then, Major Verle, Captain Byrd and all the other mech officers explicitly warned them all that they should carefully respect the lives of the descendents of the original crew of the Starlight Megalodon.

Now he knew why the Vandals were so insistent.
Without exception, every CFA serviceman was a galactic citizen! Their children were galactic citizens as well!

As space peasants, the Vandals enjoyed a much lower status than the crew of the Starlight Megalodon.
While they were allowed to defend themselves against hostile galactic citizens, they were not allowed to encroach on the rights of galactic citizens without a good reason!

Ves knew that he hadn ’t treated some of the descendents of the original crew very well.
Still, he took comfort with the knowledge that the dwarves were so far removed from the original crew of the Starlight Megalodon that the CFA probably didn ’t regard them as galactic citizens anymore.

How could the elitist CFA ever bring themselves to recognize savage, stinking dwarves as their equals?!

At the end of the swearing ceremony, Delta-Gina symbolically held a projected badge of galactic citizenship which flew into his heart.

[At this moment, you are officially registered as a galactic citizen.
As a tier 12 galactic citizen, you enjoy the most basic recognition of every major human organization in the galaxy.
Your spouse, children, apprentices, heirs and other people will not be conveyed with galactic citizenship.
Please study the full rules at your discretion.]

Ves nodded in understanding.
There were twelve tiers of galactic citizenship, and he had been bestowed with the most basic one.
He would have to become one of the higher leaders of the MTA or become a Star Designer in order to become a tier 1 galactic citizen!

That was way too far away!

Delta-Gina gestured towards the floating ball of anti-matter.
[Now that you have gone through the induction process, you are now cleared to learn confidential information that the Mech Trade Association has made available to Journeymen.]

The android sounded a bit more solemn, as if she had been programmed to convey the gravity of the information that she was about to reveal.

[The Mech Trade Association desires you to keep everything you are about to learn to yourselves.
Do not discuss these matters with anyone except mech designers directly in our service.
You will be stripped of galactic citizenship and be subject to strict punishment if you violate our confidentiality demands.]

”I promise to keep what I ’ve learned here confidential. ” Ves replied seriously.

Delta-Gina wasn ’t satisfied with a verbal promise, and served him a very strict-looking projected non-disclosure agreement.
After skimming through the document, Ves found out that the MTA would make his life absolutely miserable if he spilled their secrets!

Naturally, he still signed the NDA.

Once Delta-Gina found everything in order, she began to reveal the first secret.

[You are cleared to learn two pieces of confidential information, Mr.
First, I will briefly describe the origin of extraordinary power of Journeymen, Seniors, Masters and Star Designers.]

This definitely attracted his attention!

Delta-Gina waved a hand, summoning a projection of various remarkable mech designs performing faintly above their apparent technical parameters.

[Throughout the history of mech design, the division between mech designers was not as apparent.
Knowledge, experience, application and creativity were the determining factors to judge whether a mech designer is regarded as an Apprentice or a Senior.
That has changed when the MTA discovered that certain mech designers are able to imbue their mechs and mech designs with metaphysical properties that enhance the performance of their work without a logical explanation.]

[This has led to a landmark transformation within the MTA.
After much study and research, we have studied the phenomenon that is the source of these metaphysical manifestations.
We have determined that it is a discipline that is uniquely tied to human mentality.
We call it psionics.
Each human possesses a small degree of psionic power, but only few are capable of developing it to a degree that is significant enough to effect real change.
While mech pilots are the most apparent practitioners of psionic powers, mech designers are just as capable of bending reality.]

Ves looked stunned.
While he shouldn ’t be surprised that the MTA weren ’t blind enough to discount the existence of spirituality, he was still surprised at how much they knew!

Psionics! That was how the MTA regarded spirituality!

[The study of psionics within the MTA is highly classified.
At your current rank, you are only allowed to know a limited amount of our findings.]

[First, psionics is uniquely human.
No alien species has ever demonstrated comparable powers.]

As if Ves believed those words.
Exobeasts like Qilanxo already disproved that spirituality was the exclusive domain of humans.
Whether the MTA truly believed in their assertion or merely wanted to convey human superiority, Ves couldn ’t tell.

It was still a sign that Ves should not take the MTA at their word!

[Second, only an extremely small proportion of humanity possesses the potential to express their psionic powers.
You have not been cleared to learn the exact proportion and other relevant figures.
For now, all you are allowed to know is that the occurrence of psionic potential is very random and infrequent.
While children and offspring of high-ranking mech designers and mech pilots enjoy a slightly higher chance of exhibiting psionic potential, it is far from a guarantee.]

This fell in line with what the Larkinson Family learned after nurturing numerous expert pilots in every generation.
So many Larkinson mech pilots aspired to advance to experts, only to be doomed from the beginning.
No matter how hard they worked, they would never be able to shed their mortality!

[Third, psionic power is not stable and can be gained or lost through various circumstances.
It is also highly elusive because it does not exist in a tangible form in the material dimensions.
Therefore, the mechanics behind psionic power are not completely defined.
As a mech designer, the best way to ensure a stable growth of psionic power is to follow the advice and instructions of the Mech Trade Association.
Following our principles minimizes the risk of adverse reactions from your psionic power.]

Naturally, the MTA would say something like that.
To their credit, the MTA was probably right.
By acting in a proper and responsible fashion, a mech designer ’s spirituality wouldn ’t undergo any extreme shifts.

After Delta-Gina finished summoning up the pertinents points on the revelation of psionic power, she began to explain how this crucial information tied to Journeyman.

[Reaching the rank of Journeyman proves that you are one of the few humans in the galaxy who possesses ability to grow and express your psionic potential.
This is a pivotal development, as your achievement opens the way for you to advance to Master.
In order to progress to that height, you must continually develop the design philosophy that your psionic power has merged with.
The more potent, applicable and rigorous your design philosophy becomes, the closer you are to advancing to the rank of Senior Mech Designer!]

”What distinguishes a Journeyman from a Senior? ” Ves asked.

[A Senior is distinct from a Journeyman by the range in which the metaphysical properties of their mechs are still in effect.
A mech designed by a Journeyman can only maintain its full potential within several star sectors from the lead designers.
Mechs designed by Seniors can encompass a much wider territory and are able to retain their full strength even when they are deployed a hundred star sectors away from the lead designers.]

”What about a Master? ”

[Mechs designed by Masters are effective anywhere in the galaxy.
Their metaphysical properties remain intact even if they are deployed hundreds of thousands of light-years away.]

All of this made a lot of sense to Ves! This was probably one of the biggest reasons why mech markets were so highly bound to their regions!

Delta-Gina began to instruct Ves more specifically on what he should do to advance to Senior.
While her advice still remained rather vague and broad, it still fell in line with his own understanding of spirituality.

In short, he needed to work out stronger and more diverse applications of his design philosophy.
The most common way that mech designers accomplished this was by finding compatible exotics that complimented the effects of their design philosophies.

Incorporating these exotics into his mech designs was only the most basic way of taking advantage of them.
In order to advance for real, he needed to study the exotics through the perspective of his design philosophy and derive how these extraordinary materials worked.
Only in this way would Ves be able to replicate their effects without incorporating the expensive materials in his own design.

”Ah. ”

That also fell in line with what he guessed.
Exotics contained many profound and inexplicable effects.
While it was hard to understand their operation, mech designers were unique in that they could derive their workings as long as their design philosophies matched with their properties.

[Exotic materials do not possess any psionic properties.
However, the rules that make them extraordinary can also be applied to a mech design through the medium of psionics.]

Ves understood the way forward now, at least with regards to how the MTA saw it.
Mech designers who advanced to Journeymen may have been able to manifest their psionic powers, but their application of it was very rough and sloppy.

Reaching Journeyman meant that they had only scratched the surface of what they were capable of.
In order to unearth the possibilities that their design philosophies offered, they needed to develop a broader and more systematic understanding of what they were dealing with whenever they designed a mech.

At the beginning, newly-advanced Journeymen mostly applied their design philosophies on autopilot.
How could they harness the powers they wielded if they were incapable of taking direct control?

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