Over the next couple of days, Ves immersed himself in current events.
He read all of the news and analysis reports of the sandman invasion.
He particularly read through projections and predictions of the future.

Most analysts painted a bleak picture.
None expected the states in the first line of defense like the Tomaris Federation to last.

Though defeating an individual sandman fleet did not require too much effort, the frequency of sandman attacks prevented the defending forces from catching a breath.

”It ’s a constant, ongoing battle of attrition interspersed with brief pauses. ” One of the experts described on a live news program.

Though the Tomaris Federation could have lasted up to half a year or more if the state got its act together, who wanted to stay aboard a sinking ship?

An increasing number of citizens had already given up and wanted to go! An exodus of refugees had already begun.
Anyone with a ship or paid the exorbitant amount of money to gain passage left the endangered border states in droves.

Even though billions of refugees had already left by cramming themselves into cargo haulers hastily upgraded with additional life support systems, an uncountable amount of humans remained stuck on isolated and increasingly abandoned planets!

An enormous tragedy began to unfold as the defending mechs in the besieged star systems either pulled back or stood their ground until they got crushed!

Ves closed his eyes in sadness while cuddling Lucky.

”This is the price for the MTA ’s inaction and the CFA ’s refusal to take responsibility. ” He spoke.

The Big Two enjoyed such a lofty height that they no longer saw the suffering of those at the very bottom.

Perhaps the only good news that came from the border states was that any planet or star system with a significant MTA or CFA presence escaped destruction.

For this reason, a tiny settlement like Mancroft Independent Harbor remained relatively safe due to the CFA fuel refinery operation orbiting one of the local star system ’s gas giants.
Any sandman fleet that attempted to attack the human space stations promptly got blasted by the warships on patrol.

Nonetheless, the MTA and CFA forces mainly turtled up and refused to project their power to neighboring star systems.
No matter how many star systems got engulfed by the sandmen, the Big Two insisted that the local forces of the star sector should deal with the problem themselves!

Ves let out a cynical laugh when he read the bland statements of the two humongous organizations.
”What the hell are they so worried about that they can ’t deploy more than a single warfleet?! ”

There was no use in speculating over the reasons for their inaction.
Many people guessed that the Big Two were preparing for something big, but figured out little else.

In any case, the inaction on the part of the two second-rate states was a lot more understandable.
Neither the Friday Coalition nor the Hexadric Hegemony dispatched anything more than scattered mercenary corps to the border states.

While their help was very much appreciated, by the time they reached the frontlines, the first line of defense would have probably fallen already.

”It takes too much time to travel from the center of the star sector to the periphery. ”

He knew this first-hand.
His Barracuda was one of the fastest ship classes of the Friday Coalition, but even she required at least another month to reach the Tomaris Federation at her greatest speed.

In any case, a tsunami of refugees threatened to engulf the states in the second, third and fourth lines of defense.
In fact, most ships would have attempted to travel deeper into the interior of the star sector if not for their straining supplies and life support systems!

Even the Bright Republic braced itself to receive a humongous number of refugees.
Though the border states they came from weren ’t very populated, if everyone attempted to leave at the same time, that amounted to a very scary amount of people!

Ves briefly considered whether there would be mech designers among the refugees.
Perhaps he could pick up a couple of new subordinate mech designers to fill up his design team.

Fortunately for the refugees, the Bright Republic, Vesia Kingdom and the other states already started to set aside room for them.
The governments already began to erect a lot of prefab structures and facilities in low-density planets to provide food and shelter to the people who had lost everything.

Attempting to provide the refugees a way to rebuild their lives could come later.
For now, the Bright Republic already started to house the first refugees that had fled first on rural planets with plenty of room to spare.

Coincidentally, this also included Cloudy Curtain.
The authorities already formed a plan that called for scaling up its agriculture.
Instead of cultivating expensive, slow-growing crops like cloud rice over a few patches of highly fertile soil, the planetary government planned to convert a lot more landmass into farms.

While machines did most of the work, humans were still needed to supervise the farms and handle problems that weren ’t suited for bots.

”At least the refugees have something to do.
I guess we also need the food. ”

The Bright Republic took the sandman invasion extremely seriously.
The extensive movement by the government spoke of a broad and all-encompassing plan to defend its territory against the alien invasion that would arrive at its doorstep in a year or less!

Ves breathed a sigh in relief when he ascertained that the government fully committed to defending the Republic.
The same couldn ’t be said for the states closer to the border.
A lot of government officials and even entire mech regiments had gone rogue and abandoned the states they were duty-bound to defend!

”I ’m glad I don ’t have to make this choice. ” He muttered while idly squeezing Lucky.
”Unlike the Tomaris Federation, it looks like the Bright Republic actually stands a chance at withstanding the invasion. ”

”Meow. ”

”I ’m not going to run and ruin my hard-earned honor and reputation.
It ’s one of my most valuable assets! I ’m only going to run if others start running in droves! At least I ’ll be able to hide my shame in the crowd! ”

Reputation was a double-edged sword.
While Ves benefited substantially from the fame it provided, it also held him up to a pedestal where he was expected to conform to a specific image.

As soon as he broke the bubble, his reputation would come crashing down!

For this reason and more, Ves reluctantly decided to commit to the Bright Republic and do his best to contribute to its defense in his own way.

”Of course, it would be nice if I could burnish my credentials, earn a lot of goodwill and most importantly sell a lot of mechs! ”

Currently, the LMC was poorly positioned to take advantage of this crisis.
As its lead designer, Ves bore responsibility for this failure, but also bore the responsibility to remedy its inadequacies.

”It all comes down to expanding my company ’s mech catalog! ” Ves told Lucky while patting his cat ’s head.
”I ’ve solved almost all of my problems in my life by designing mechs.
This is no different! ”

”Meow! ”

Lucky threw a dubious glance at Ves.

”I know I can do it! Even if the competition is immense, I ’m confident my work will be able to capture some market share! ”

This time, he intended to compete in a very competitive and highly-saturated market.
Rifleman mechs made up the biggest product category in the Bright Republic and elsewhere.
While laser rifleman mechs dominated in space, a fair amount of good ballistic rifleman mech models were already for sale.

Ves exhibited a lot of courage by attempting to intrude in this extremely busy market.
The difficulty of publishing a new mech design that stood out from the competition was ten times harder than attempting to establish a footing in more niche product categories such as offensive knight mechs.

”Let ’s get to work. ”

He leaned back in his chair and began to formulate a mech concept.
Along with catching up on the latest news, he also read plenty of market research reports.
He gained a pretty good picture on the kinds of mechs that appealed to the market in the coming months.

Ves started his latest mech design project by preparing logs and formal documentation.
Unlike the Devil Tiger project, his latest project was completely legitimate.

In order to satisfy the MTA ’s demands, he made sure to document his thought processes behind most of his design choices.
He only left out information that pertained directly to his trade secrets.

After filling in a number of administrative forms, he began to compose a short list of criteria for his next mech design.




-Easy to maintain and repair

-Low armor

-High mobility

-Medium endurance

-Low skill floor

The requirements he set for his next mech design all diverged remarkably from his previous mech designs.
This time, the list made it clear that he wasn ’t designing a premium mech this time!

”In fact, according to the market trends, sales of premium mechs will plummet! Mech owners can ’t afford to splurge lavishly on luxuries when their very homes and lives are at stake! ”

According to the impression that Ves had formed, he saw the need for a mech that resisted the invading sandmen as effectively as possible while still remaining affordable.
For his reason, he prioritized cost-efficiency and specialization.

”It ’s fine if my mech doesn ’t necessarily perform as well against other human targets. ” Ves rubbed his chin.
”By the time the crisis is over, my mech model will have served its purpose.
The LMC can retire it or put it on the backburner to focus on selling other mech models. ”

One key aspect about the current mech models in the market was that they mostly excelled at fighting other mechs.
They weren ’t necessarily optimized against the means of attack employed by the sandmen, and this was where Ves recognized a temporary hole in the market!

”If I can move quickly and publish a mech design that can do a better job at resisting the sandmen at a cheaper price, I can quickly capture a significant amount of market share! ”

The key here was that Ves had to move quickly! The Bright Republic alone possessed more than a thousand native Journeyman Mech Designers and more than a hundred native Senior Mech Designers.
At least half of them or more were probably working on their own solutions to the sandmen threat.

”That doesn ’t even count the low-ranking mech designers or the foreigners competing in the Bright Republic ’s mech market! ”

With everyone racing to publish the first mech designs that adequately addressed the problem, Ves mainly had to rely on speed in order to gain an edge over his competitors!

This was also why Ves emphasized a simple mech design.
Not only did he wanted to waste as little time in designing his mech as possible, he also wanted to make it easy to maintain and easy to repair.

”The latter has always been my strong point. ”

His extensive stint as head designer for the Flagrant Vandals and his recent progress made him very confident that he could design a mech that didn ’t take a highly-educated mech designer to service.

”With how desperate the coming war will be, standards will slip and a lot of mistakes will happen. ”

He witnessed varying levels of maintenance standards at various outfits.
Ves had to make sure that his next mech model didn ’t demand too much in terms of tolerances.
Even if mech technicians slipped up in repairing damaged components, his mechs should still be able to cope!

His mech had to be made of materials in abundant supply.
With the war increasingly encroaching into the Komodo Star Sector, a lot of resource extraction sites at the border states and other states in the vicinity no longer supplied a lot of raw materials that many industries took for granted.

”I have to be careful to make use of materials that won ’t become scarce once the sandman invasion reaches the doorstep of the Bright Republic. ”

The advantage of using locally-sourced materials in abundant supply was that Ves could easily drive down the price for his upcoming mech model.

”I have to resist the temptation of adding gimmicks and unnecessary luxuries to my mech design.
Anything superfluous will only detract from the cost-effectiveness of my latest product. ”

Rather than attempting to add more value, this time Ves prioritized reducing costs.
It was a completely different approach compared to his approach towards his premium mech designs!

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