This was going to be his most ambitious and far-reaching mech design project to date!

Duty was the key ingredient he had been looking for to distinguish his ballistic rifleman mech.
No matter how many advantages competing designs offered, hardly any of them could serve the need that his product was meant to address.

”Only my mech can inspire people to do their duty! ”

If successful, the value of his products would immediately become evident.
Ves believed that many actors would recognize their value and deploy them en masse in order to shore up morale and inspire everyone to do their duty.

When Ves pitched his idea to Gavin later in the day, his assistant looked gobsmacked but also impressed.

”This… this is a brilliant idea! ” He finally replied.
”This is genius! I ’ve never thought about applying the LMC ’s distinctive advantages in this direction! ”

Ves confidently grinned as he idly played with Lucky.
”I ’m glad you recognize the merit of my idea.
This is a new and untested idea, though.
Do you have any remarks about applying this idea to my latest design project? ”

”It would be great if some military mech regiments adopted your mech. ”

”That ’s not possible, Benny.
I have to make too many adaptations and I ’ll have to answer to a bunch of Seniors in order to make my mech suitable for military use. ” Ves immediately shook his head.

He worked extensively with military mechs.
He was well aware that his own mech designs fell short in too many areas to fall into the consideration of the Mech Corps and other military mech forces.

Gavin scratched his head.
”Well, I ’m sure your mech will catch on in the private market, but..
it ’s kind of strange to sell a mech that is oriented around duty to mercenary corps and security companies.
They ’re not exactly known for standing their ground and valuing their duty over their lives. ”

”In ordinary circumstances, this mismatch is a serious problem.
These aren ’t ordinary times, though.
A vast alien invasion is threatening to overwhelm us all and the private outfits aligned to the states aren ’t entirely willing to abandon their homes.
At the very least, many of the outfits in the Bright Republic are made up of veterans who used to serve in the Mech Corps.
They ’ll fight.
I ’m confident of that. ”

”Your Avatars of Myth also fit that pattern. ” His assistant pointed out.
”Maybe this crisis is a good opportunity for your Avatars to debut their prowess. ”

Ves had mixed feelings about that.
He already held a conversation with Commander Melkor about this very topic.

Melkor pushed Ves to issue the first batches of his upcoming mech design to the Avatars! This was because the Avatar Commander itched to push his Avatars into answering the call and proving their valor on the battlefield!

It became very clear to Ves that Melkor and some of the Avatars were relatively discontent at the lack of action.
Aside from performing routine mercenary assignments in order to put their practice to use, the Avatars hardly ever distinguished themselves in battle.

The lack of battle accomplishments shamed the Avatars!

While Ves was willing to let some of his Avatars perform some riskier missions, he wasn ’t quite sure about equipping them with his own products.

This was because his duty-based mech model served the lower end of the mech market! His Avatars who were frantically training to improve their proficiency in ranged combat in space would have to give up their strong and cozy premium mechs in favor of piloting humble budget mechs!

Cheap mechs didn ’t match the image he envisioned for his Avatars of Myth! How could he ever parade them around as an elite mech troop when they piloted mechs with average performance?

They simply didn ’t match!

Yet Ves also recognized that these were extraordinary circumstances.
He couldn ’t let his Avatars stick to their existing mechs which were almost completely useless against the sandmen.

Perhaps only the Aurora Titans could stay in order to form a line of defense against the powerful but intermittent laser attacks of the sandmen.

”We all have to make sacrifices. ” Ves spoke.
”Even my Avatars can ’t stand aside.
If they are to fight on the battlefield, then I want to equip them with adequate mechs.
My mechs. ”

That was all he could do.
Perhaps he could design a variant that was slightly more expensive, but that would take too much effort.
It was better if he focused completely on a single design.

During a crisis, everyone needed to make sacrifices.

The Avatars needed to settle for cheaper and lower-performing mechs to do their duty.

Gavin probably believed that he was doing his duty when Flashlight requested him to become their informer.

As a Larkinson and a Brighter, Ves felt compelled to return to the Bright Republic in order to do his duty to the best of his abilities.

Though no one acted in the best interests to themselves, Ves did not believe that they were doing something wrong.

There was honor in duty!

Nonetheless, the mech concept that Ves put forward was not entirely without problems.
At the very least, it did nothing to mitigate the accusations that his products brainwashed people.

Instead, his mass-produced rifleman mechs would probably reinforce this notion!

”You ’ll be unleashing a monster as soon as you publish your design and put your mechs in the hands of your customers.
Do you understand the controversy your mech model will spark if it lives up to all of the promises you ’ve made? ”

A brief moment of silence stretched between the two.
Ves was very well aware of what Gavin tried to warn.

”I know. ” Ves closed his eyes.
”My mech can be used for both good and bad ends.
This is something that I ’ve always kept in mind. ”

”It ’s more than that, boss! A mech that inspires duty can also be regarded as a mech that encourages obedience! As soon as despots, tyrants and awful leaders catch wind of your new mech model, they ’ll doubtlessly abuse it to force their mech pilots or people into compliance! ”

Ves stopped playing with Lucky and placed his cat to the side.

”Meow. ”

”Not now. ” He told his cat before turning back to Gavin.
”I share your concerns, but the potential to misuse my products has always existed.
I will not let these possibilities hinder me.
It ’s not really my responsibility anyway.
The fault lies within my customers. ”

”I ’m not sure if everyone else will agree, boss.
You will have to answer for yourself if the MTA or some other organization ever forms an inquiry into your new mech model.
Even if you haven ’t tampered with the neural interfaces, there are too many parallels to the Farund Affair! The only thing that is different is that you ’re a lot better in hiding the exact mechanisms.
It ’s as disingenuous as the Kinners practising their slavery trade with a civilized coat! ”

Woah! Gavin ’s argument truly landed a powerful impact on Ves.
The analogy he used was simply too apt!

Nitaa, who always kept quiet, couldn ’t help but speak out against Gavin.

Neumann, your description is uncalled for.
The Kinner Tribe does not practice and has never condoned slavery. ”

”You ’re a slave in all but name! ” Gavin pointed an accusatory finger at the tall bodyguard.
”You ’re just too brainwashed to accept the truth! You think you are free, but your mind has been shackled since you were born! You never exercise your freedom because your Kinner Tribe trained you to accept exploitation! ”

Though Nitaa was too professional to lash out in anger, her eyes fiercely glowered at Gavin.
Her body shook and her armored hands were probably itching to beat up the outspoken assistant!

Ves knew he had to intervene before the matter escalated.

”Ahem! ” Ves coughed.
He deliberately spiked his Spirituality in order to strengthen his attempt to break up the tension in the room.
”Benny, I understand your opinion with regards to my mech design, but these are difficult times.
If I can provide a solution that can help the Bright Republic and other beleaguered states strengthen the resolve of their soldiers and citizens, then it is my duty for me to make it available! ”

”Does expedience matter that much to you?! Is that why you gleefully pretend that Kinners aren ’t what I say they are?! ”

Ves frowned deeper and deeper.
Though he partially agreed with Gavin ’s sentiment, this was not the time to let moral concerns stand in the way of his interests.

”Do you think I ’m without conscience, Benny? ”

Silence greeted his question.

Ves clapped his hand.
”Let ’s adjourn this meeting.
I think you need some time to cool that temper of yours. ”

I ’m sorry boss.
I ’m a bit frustrated.
The sandman invasion and all of the ripple effects that have ensued has really stressed me out.
I ’m not even sure that Cloudy Curtain can withstand the coming storm. ”

”That ’s why I suggest you enjoy a timeout.
I value your opinions, but I ’ve made my decision.
I ’ll proceed to base my upcoming mech design around the concept of duty because that is what my customers need.
As for the Kinners… please don ’t disrespect their culture. ”

To be honest, Ves only said that last part because he didn ’t want Gavin to give Nitaa and his other Kinners too many ideas.

Though Ves eventually wished to supplant the indoctrination imparted onto the Kinner with genuine loyalty towards him, this transition needed to be managed carefully.

Telling the Kinners straight-up that they were slaves and that they needed to break all of their mental shackles at once was not beneficial to him! He paid for them! He still wanted to get his money ’s worth out of his purchases!

The Kinners promised their human products would be loyal to their buyers for life, and Ves was damned if he let some nosy person accelerate their expiry dates!

Once Gavin left his stateroom, Ves sat up from his desk chair and began to pace around.
Lucky playfully floated alongside his head as he did so.
The cat tapped his head with his paws.

”Meow. ”

”Oh? ” Ves raised his eyebrow.
”You ’re almost finished with digesting my P-stone? ”

”Meow meow. ”

Lucky ’s cat swung back and forth as if he was proud of himself.

”I look forward to what you can produce.
If it ’s something good, I ’ll definitely allow you to eat more P-stones in the future! ”

”Meow! ”

Ves had no idea what kind of gem Lucky might produce, but it would probably be related to spirituality.
Any gem that Lucky produced shared at least some relations to what he consumed, though there were always exceptions.
Random chance played a huge role in how Lucky ’s gems turned out.

Lucky ’s news helped lift his mood a little.
Ves no longer directed any dark thoughts towards Gavin.
He didn ’t know why his assistant became so confrontational all of a sudden and why Ves paid so much attention to it at the moment.

Was it because of the stress of maintaining double loyalties or did something else weigh on Gavin ’s mind?

Despite the uncharacteristic outburst, Ves still had no intentions of getting rid of Gavin.

”I should stop racking my brains over these issues and begin with designing my mech. ”

He decided to proceed to expand his mech concept and all of the other design choices he made so far into a unified vision.

Ves returned to his seat and leaned back as he focused on stimulating his imagination.
Countless ideas flitted across his mind as he tried to form the right vision for his mech.

”What shall I call my new mech? It deserves a name at this stage. ”

A possible suggestion quickly arose from his mind.

”The Expedient Duty. ”

It was a fitting name, though a bit too literal to his tastes.

Ves eventually shook his head and rejected this option despite its appropriateness.
”It ’s a bit too close to the truth.
I don ’t want to advertise the true purpose of my mech so blatantly.
I have to dress it up a little. ”

After all, he couldn ’t just outright say that his mech was meant to encourage people into performing their duty!

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