er suffering such a grievous blow to her self-inflated sense of worth, how could she still pretend that she was still hot stuff?

Unfortunately, her brother Imon still required more convincing.
”The Battle Criers are more like civilized pirates then proper mercenaries! I wouldn ’t be surprised if they engaged in surreptitious piracy between missions! ”

”Are you willing to say that to Commander Cinnabar to his face? ” Ves pressed as he stepped closer.

That caused the brash brother to look a lot less sure of himself.
While Imon was confident he could beat the Kinner mercenary commander in a fair mech duel, if it came to fisticuffs he did not possess as much confidence!

”..The commander is a fine mercenary leader. ”

Ves nodded in satisfaction.
”There ’s nothing wrong with being proud.
Pride in yourself, your heritage and your accomplishments is essential to maintaining your confidence.
But pride without the requisite strength to back it up is arrogance.
If there ’s one thing I know, it ’s that arrogant people don ’t last long in the galaxy. ”

The harsh lessons he shoved through their throats might hurt, but they all rang true.
While Ves disliked adopting a tough approach, weeks had gone by without any hint of significant progress.
At some point, something had to give.

Fortunately, Ves had built up quite a bit of experience in dressing people down.
It was all about presenting himself as an authoritative figure who knew what he was talking about.
The fact that he was their employer already gave him a lot of leverage.

In the end, the two reluctantly decided that it might be best to get their lives back in order.
Ves heavily pushed them towards returning to the Ion Tracker and trying to see if they could get along with the ’uncouth ’ and ’barbaric ’ Battle Criers.

”Don ’t take their attitude too seriously. ” He advised the Ingvar siblings.
”For all of their rough exterior, the Battle Criers are an accomplished mercenary corps who have been through more battles than you ’ve been in school.
All of them are blooded warriors who have a wealth of wisdom to teach you as long as you respect their honor. ”

”Truly? ” Imon asked skeptically.

”Don ’t take my words for it.
Look up their record at the Mercenary Association ’s virtual portal.
They have a long list of verified battles to their name.
While their list of victories is already respectable, they ’ve suffered some losses as well, but they always managed to bounce back.
That is truly worthy of respect. ”

One of the reasons why Ves liked the Battle Criers was that they had seen their fair share of hardship.
Each time they suffered disaster, Commander Cinnabar always managed to lead his mercenary corps back up its feet.

They were no fancy ornaments who looked impressive but broke into pieces when knocked.

After Ves called for the Ion Tracker to send a shuttle to the Barracuda to pick up the two mech pilots, he returned to his stateroom.

Upon entering, he tossed Lucky into the air like usual and sat behind his desk.

”I ’ve studied enough about bestial mechs and smart metal tech to start with the design process. ”

Too much theory and not enough practice led to overcomplicated designs.
While Ves still had much to learn, his lack of experience in the two aforementioned fields meant that some of the most advanced literature became a bit too abstract for him to comprehend.

”Mech design revolves around application of knowledge.
People like me fare best when learning by doing. ”

He was itching to unleash his pent-up creative desires.
The last time he designed a mech was when he completed the Transcendent Messenger.
A long time had passed since then, and more than enough time had passed for his once-depleted spiritual energy to return to an optimal level.

”If I don ’t start designing mechs very soon, it ’ll become crazier than Gloriana at this rate! ”

Ves had no idea how other mech designers coped when they couldn ’t design mechs.

Having thought long and hard about how to resolve the inherent contradiction between bestial mechs and smart metal tech, Ves came up with a very practical soltuion.

”Bestial mechs sacrifice flexibility for rigid performance, while smart metal tech introduced flexibility at the cost of raw performance.
Combining the two sounds like an awful idea, but who says the entire mech needs to be made out of smart metal? ”

When Ves thought about smart metal tech, he instantly recalled the amazing smart metal mech that Axelar once witnessed during a mech games match.
The mech dazzled him with its infinite transformations, but the machine eventually faltered against an opponent that beat its malleable form with overwhelming force.

”Bestial mechs and tiger mechs specifically will fare exceptionally poorly if their internal frames aren ’t robust enough to handle the stress. ”

His solution to that problem? Avoid incorporating smart metal in the internal frame of his mech design!

A much smarter application of smart metal would be to implement it to his design in a targeted manner.
Only the parts that benefited from the properties of this soft but flexible substance ought to be molded with smart metal!

Framing the issue in this perspective gave Ves a lot more hopes about the viability of his design project.

”So the starting point will be a tiger mech frame.
Which parts would perform better if they were made out of smart metal rather than rigid alloys? ”

At first, nothing stood out.
The tiger mech type had been refined over several centuries, and many mech designers worked to define a set of standards that worked great for everybody.

”The only issue is that those standards and conventions are fully geared towards mechs with rigid frames. ” He thoughtfully rubbed his chin while Lucky was ruffling up his hair in revenge for tossing his cat in the air.
”If I want to apply smart metal onto a tiger mech that is more than just a gimmick, then I ’ll have to revisit the entire concept of this ferocious mech type. ”

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