Ves did not let the System ’s stubbornness sway him from using the lantern.
He noted that the system phrased the lantern ’s rule in a fairly broad manner.
Engineers like him often learned to bend seemingly immutable rules to their advantage.

”As long as I incorporate the printer parts into a mech design, the lantern will consider them eligible, right? ”


”Hahahaha! I ’m right! ” He laughed.
”If it ’s merely programmed to treat components in this fashion, then I ’ll just slap something together. ”

The lantern ’s distinction didn ’t make any sense in the first place.
An artificial distinction between mech and non-mech components could only have been imposed from an external force.
Since the lantern was not a living object, Ves easily figured out a way to exploit its lack of cunning.

Once the assembler system finished scanning and sorting all of the parts, Ves imported the detailed data into his designer software.

”Time to design the ugliest mech in the galaxy. ”

He suspected that only viable design played a role when deciding to illuminate a component.
This meant that Ves had to put some effort into making sure his Frankenstein monster could actually walk and shoot.

”The Dortmund weighs as much as two heavy mechs.
It will take a lot of effort keeping such a massive monstrosity on its feet. ”

Replacing the feet with wheels or treads didn ’t work, as Ves had to stick to the definition of a mech.
Since he didn ’t have to actually fabricate the mech, Ves choose to start from the default Caesar Augustus frame since it used the best materials.

First, he stripped the limbs and expanded the torso.
He added a crude hollow section to the underside and filled it up with redundant power reactors and engines.
He then duplicated the default legs by about a dozen times before adding them to the expanded portion.
It took a few hours to rig the artificial muscles that transferred motive power from the engines to the legs.

The mech so far looked like an oversized centaur/spider hybrid with a wheelbarrow-like hollow at its rear.
He started to build an elaborate lattice around the mech and gradually started to attach the lighter Dortmund parts to them.
They hung from the lattices like leaves on a tree.

Once Ves used up all of the small-scale parts, he started to using up the heavier components.
He welded them together and stacked them up inside the hollow he left out.
It made the monster mech look like an old-fashioned truck with legs.

To top off his mech, he added a single laser cannon to a random surface.
He quickly finalized the design and handed it over to the System.

”Here ’s my latest design.
I call it the Piece of Junk on Twelve Legs. ”

[Design Evaluation: Piece of Junk on Twelve Legs]

Model name: Piece of Junk on Twelve Legs
Original Manufacturer: Ves Larkinson
Weight Classification: Ultra-heavy
Recommended Role: Target Practice

Armor: F-
Carrying Capacity: A
Aesthetics: F-
Endurance: F-
Energy Efficiency: F-
Flexibility: F-
Firepower: F+
Integrity: F-
Mobility: F-
Spotting: F-
X-Factor: F

Cost efficiency: F-

Project involvement: 100%

Original component composition: 3%

Overall evaluation: The Piece of Junk on Twelve Legs barely meets the definition of a mech.
This walking disaster fails in every possible role except for holding up its own prodigious weight.

[You have received no Design Points for failing to design a practical mech.]

The System must have been having a seizure when it marked his design.
Ves had to suppress his grin.
The Piece of Junk could barely move, let alone stand in place without collapsing in on itself.
Still, as long as it held up for a minute, he succeeded in making a viable mech.

Ves returned to the sorted pile of printer parts and brought out the lantern.
After carefully igniting the wick, the lantern released a brilliant golden glow that nearly blinded him for a moment.

The brightness dimmed into a gentle glow.
Whenever the orange light encountered one of the components laying on the ground, it flared and sought to sink in deep.
Ves merely held up the lantern and waited for something to happen.

He spotted a couple of signs ten minutes later.
Part of a large alloy sheet started glowing red.
They looked like tiny hairline fractures.
Their presence proved that he successfully fooled the lantern ’s programming.

”This is great! ”

With the help of the lantern, Ves took out any remaining parts that glowed suspiciously.
If he neglected the lantern, he might have gone ahead and pieced together a Dortmund that could one day collapse in a heap of junk.
He practically saved his own hide with this precautionary move.

In the end, Ves had to recycle around 1 in 200 parts.
This was much more than he expected.
The prevalence of microfractures and other faults forced him to halt his current schedule.
He wanted to make some headway in the reconstruction project before he started fulfilling orders for the Marc II, but now it appeared he underestimated the required steps.

”I can replace most of the parts at home, but these high-grade processors are a different matter.
Luckily, I picked up plenty of spares. ”

Out of the many sets of chips, Ves found only a couple of them still remained pristine.
While he gathered an entire set of functional chips, their security measures probably blocked them from establishing a connection with each other.
Their serial numbers and individual settings didn ’t match.

”I ’ll have to find someone who can hack these chips. ” He concluded.
Due to the questionable legality of his current project, he couldn ’t just walk into the MTA or something.
Besides resorting to the black market, Ves could only think of the Clifford Society to ask for help.

”I don ’t have a lot of merits left. ” He winced.
”I might need to complete a short mission before I can afford a hacker. ”

Before that, he also needed to clean house.
The latest shenanigans from the Greens and the White Doves prompted Ves to request a meeting with the Pioneers.
Calsie recently sent him a message that she successfully arranged a meeting with an important member of the Pioneers.

”Looks like I ’ll be heading to downtown Freslin tomorrow.
Do you want to come with me Lucky? ”

The gem cat continued to munch on his crunchy dinner.

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