red one intact, more or less. ”

”Did they do anything with it? ”

”The Mech Corps may be penny pinchers sometimes, but they won ’t throw away a functional mech.
An ace pilot took it over and piloted it for a few years before it got embroiled in a border skirmish with the Vesians.
It lost its left leg and a chunk of its waist.
When it came back to the hangar, the Corps decided it was more trouble than it was worse trying to fix it up again, so they sold the rest for scrap. ”

”Damn, so it ’s gone now right? ”

Recycled down to the seats. ”

”Well, there goes my hope of refurbishing it.
So anyway, the Mech Corps must have learned a thing or two about the CA-1, right? ”

”Nothing officially, but I tracked down one of the technicians that serviced the CA-1. ”

That was impressive, and also a little dangerous.
Melinda could get in trouble if she harassed a veteran too much.

”Don ’t worry about it, cousin. ” Melinda smiled over the comm.
”He found the Caesar Augustus to be a bitch to maintain, but he still misses it.
He freely gave me the notes he kept about the mech.
I ’ve sent it through this connection, so you should already have them in your storage. ”

”That ’s going to help out a lot.
Thanks for taking the time. ”

”I ’m looking forward of what you can do.
Be sure to give me a call and show off your work when you finish a design! ”

”Will do! ”

When Ves returned to his workshop, he perused the documents Melinda sent over.
The retired technician had conveyed his thoughts in a haphazard manner, with no apparent order in his many ideas.
Ves spent quite some time to iron out the disordered words and plentiful jargon into something legible.

What he got opened his mind.
The technician was evidently proficient in improvisation and jury rigging.
He kept the Caesar Augustus going for years even without official replacement parts from National Aeromotives.
Though the notes contained no schematics or blueprints, just getting to know the changes and the reasoning the technician came up with already gave Ves ideas for his own customization plans.

His newly gained skill in electrical engineering also helped him puzzle out the crude drawings of rerouted cables and shifted systems.
The retired technician spent some of his spare time trying to come up with a better layout for the most problematic tangles.
Not many of them looked viable, but the technician succeeded in coming up with some optimizations, making the mech a little easier to maintain.

After digesting the material, Ves had the urge to work on a design immediately.
He quickly switched over to the Designer and started incorporating some of his ideas on the Caesar Augustus.

He worked on the easy solutions first.
He moved a few components, sometimes shifting them just a millimeter, other times swapping them from left to right.
Following these actions, he uncrossed a couple of cables and rerouted them through a different channel.

When Ves stepped back and admired his changes, he realized the technician ’s suggestions did have a basis on reality.
The modifications he made according to the suggestions made the mech a little less troublesome to produce and maintain.

”Now that I ’ve picked all the low-hanging fruit, it ’s time for the real work to start. ”

Ves intended to redesign CA-1 practically from the ground up.
Just making a few changes here and there just didn ’t cut it.
So Ves bit his lips and started to test the viability of more drastic modifications, some suggested by the technicians and some he figured out himself after handcrafting its design in the game.

The changes he sketched improved the base model only incrementally.
With limited knowledge and a lack of component licenses, Ves faced limitations everywhere.

At its heart, a humanoid mech imitated the workings of the human body.
Though hundreds of years of progress have made a mech ’s mechanical workings increasingly more sophisticated, it still adhered to the same rules.
If Ves arbitrarily cut off a few cables or messed around with its proportions, he might cause the the design to cascade into an unworkable mess just like if he messed around with an actual human body.

Some people started to question whether mechs would evolve to constitute life.
Ves wasn ’t interested in these philosophical discussions that popped up every once in a while in college.
He did not delude himself into thinking he was playing God by fashioning new mechs.
Ves always thought his classmates who talked that way treated the mech designer occupation as a luxury.
Ves preferred to hang out with the more down-to-earth crowd that treated the job as a way to assist the mech pilots that defended their homes.

A week went by as Ves made some accomplishments.
He also earned enough DP to upgrade his Electrical Engineering skill to Novice.
With his improved insights in electrical engineering, he also simplified a couple of problematic spots.
This necessitated a drop in performance, but what he lost in specs he gained a lot more in ease of manufacturing and repair.
While Ves had made some minor progress in taming the beast, it still maintained its essential wildness and ferocity.

”I still have a long road ahead, but I ’m reaching the limits of what my skills and imagination can do. ”

He only managed to come up with a half-finished design.
While he wanted to wait until he could afford a few more skills with his steady income of DP, he had to validate his design by fabricating it personally.
Without getting hands-on, all of his work remained theoretical.

Ves finalized the design when he reached the limits of what he could do.
He named the variant the Nero after a famous person who lived in the same time period as Caesar Augustus in Ancient Terran history.
Frankly, Ves knew very little about history.
He just made a casual search on the galactic net for some cool names and Nero popped up as some dude with a mixed evaluation.
This fit in nicely with what he thought about his, which is what he also thought about his recently finished design.

At least he hadn ’t gone ahead and named the design the Bastard Son.

The System ’s evaluation of the design was mild, to say the least.
All of its core systems and armor remained the same as its stock model, so the System gave him a low rating for effort.
The only thing Ves managed to pry from the System was a base reward of 10 DP due to the design being based on a complicated lastgen model.

He was ready to start fabricating a virtual mech.
When Ves logged into Iron Spirit and visited the market section, he found to his surprise that someone actually bought his half-baked Caesar Augustus.


The user name sounded like a complete stranger.
Ves checked his friends list and found nothing.
Searching the galactic net only revealed that the player wasn ’t a celebrity.

”Who the fuck is TheGrandGreenRoad? ”

Well, whoever he was, he saved Ves a lot of trouble.
Since the mech got sold, I have enough credits to fabricate the Nero. ”

He threw the identity of the buyer to the back of his mind and entered the virtual workshop to go to work.
He was eager to see if the Nero he produced could match the specs of a standard CA-1.

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