”The fabrication process of a perfect vessel is a ritual. ” Gloriana told Ves in a solemn voice.
”The mech has to be produced successfully at the very first attempt. ”

”I don ’t think the worst case scenario will happen. ” Ves smiled at her.
”Regardless of how much we customized it, the Resentful Soldier is still a simple mech design.
With our level of skill, it ’s impossible for us to fail our first attempt. ”

The two had moved over to the workshop hall where they awaited the delivery of the raw materials required to fabricate their mech.
Ves had already spent some time familiarizing himself with Gloriana ’s high-quality production equipment.

The 3D Printer, assembly system and so on surpassed anything the LMC possessed.
With such high-quality equipment, the chance of fabricating a masterwork mech was a little bit better than normal, which was exactly what Gloriana wanted.

”With how much effort we put into this mech, we have to aim for masterwork! ” Gloriana declared with a determined expression.
She raised her dainty fist at Ves.
”You better make sure to put in your full effort.
Show me the strength that enabled you to fabricate your first masterwork! ”

Her intense demand forced Ves to take this job a lot more seriously than he initially planned.

In truth, Ves did not regard his chances highly.
Their collaborating in this project had not been very smooth.
They barely achieved some synergy and there was still a lot more room for improvement.

On a creative level, he also wasn ’t very emotionally invested in the Resentful Soldier.
He cared little for William Urbesh and mainly saw the project as an introductory work to see how well he collaborated with Gloriana.

As long as the mech came out decently well, Ves was already satisfied.

Obviously, Gloriana saw the project in a different light.
She wanted their first collaboration to be as perfect as possible.
Perhaps sensing that Ves wasn ’t as motivated as her, she prodded him plenty of times in order to get him to adopt a serious attitude.

”Okay, okay! ” He raised his hands.
”I ’ll put in my best effort, okay!? Just give me some time.
I work best when I enter into a focused and inspired mood. ”

Gloriana clearly didn ’t need any preparation.
She had been looking forward to this moment since the very start she designed a custom mech with Ves.
The outcome of this fabrication attempt served as concrete proof of how well they collaborated with each other!

If their mech ended up as a disappointment, then that would seriously affect her confidence in continued collaboration attempts.

Ves didn ’t share her concerns.
The Resentful Soldier not only inherited much of its simplicity from the Desolate Soldier, it also contained some wondrous interactions between their respective design philosophies.

As Ves studied the finalized design carefully, he sensed that the mutual strengthening effect was very much present.
Gloriana ’s specialty naturally leaned towards empowering the specialties of other mech designers.
Ves himself had tweaked the spiritual foundation of the Resentful Soldier to be more receptive towards her ideals.

All of their efforts resulted in a slightly more powerful expression of X-Factor than the Desolate Soldier.

Resentment, aggression and desperation poured out of the mech design as if the beast inside desperately wanted to escape its prison!

That suddenly reminded Ves of something.

Nyxie ’s influence was very pervasive in this project.
Not only did he form the main ingredient of the design spirit of the mech, he also gained more direct influence due to the direct addition of his mote of spirituality!

If that wasn ’t enough, William ’s treatment also left the mech pilot with a contaminated mind and spiritual potential! The alien entity trapped inside the Ancient Sarcophagus had wormed his way so deeply into William ’s psyche that the man was nothing like his old self now.

Having surmised all of this, Ves began to ask a very disconcerting question.

”What will happen if William and the Resentful Soldier are put together? ”

Nyxie left a very heavy footprint in both of them.
They could even be seen as an extension of the ancient alien ’s influence.

Perhaps something very significant might happen once William interfaced with the Resentful Soldier.

Even so, Ves wasn ’t deterred.
He only cared about completing his assignment.
Right now, that meant designing a mech that allowed William to participate in the battles at the front!

The conflict between the sandmen and the humans living in the Komodo Star Sector became known as the Sand War.

Though the name was fairly unimaginative, no one laughed or made light of it.
The two words put together invoked a lot of fear and anger from people.

The sandmen were too difficult an opponent to deal with! Their vast numbers and endless fleets had already battered more than a dozen states in the star sector!

Any single battle against the sandmen resulted in at least some deaths.
No mech pilot looked forward to facing the sandmen for that reason.

However, Ves did not entirely see that as a negative.
A typical sandman fleet wasn ’t very difficult to defeat.
The occasional casualties suffered by the defenders was not excessive, at least at first.

With a relatively high survival rate for mech pilots, the circumstances seemed ideal for stimulating mech pilots into breaking through!

”This is the perfect stage to push William past his limits! ”

Though risky, Ves wanted William to gain some actual battle experience for a few months.

If William did not come close to advancing to expert candidate after participating in numerous battles, that was fine.

Ves would just have to visit in person and subject William to another experiment.
After his last experiment, he gained an increased understanding in the nature of spirituality and how it tied to the mind of a living human.

Was he confident enough to develop a treatment that uplifted a mech pilot with spiritual potential into an expert candidate? Not really.
He still had ideas, though.

As long as Ves understood the nature of force of will a little better, he was confident he could crack the code.

”Are you ready, Ves? ” Gloriana asked.
”I don ’t want to delay too long. ”

Ves shook his head and peppered himself up.
”I ’m prepared.
Let ’s begin. ”

The two Journeymen formally started their fabrication run.

The workshop hall began to hum as several machines went active.
Because Gloriana wanted Ves to express his ability to the fullest, she insisted on letting him do the bulk of the work.

”I ’ll assist you on the side and make sure that all of the materials and parts will go to the right places. ” Gloriana explained her own role.
”I ’ll also inspect all of the parts thoroughly to make sure they don ’t have any faults. ”

Their start had been fairly shaky.
Despite familiarizing himself extensively with Gloriana ’s production equipment, Ves still needed some hands-on experience in order to increase his fluency in operating all of the advanced machines.

Just the 3D printer alone was a marvel of advanced Hegemony technologies! One out of five parts that Ves had fabricated came out as defective in Gloriana ’s standards.

”Not good enough! ” She yelled at Ves while throwing down a delicate sensor part against the deck! ”Are you being lazy, Ves?! ”

Ves frowned deeply at her.
”I already told you.
I ’m still getting used to your tools! If you had just left my old equipment in place, I would have been able to hit the ground running! ”

Gloriana smacked him in the side.
”Aren ’t you supposed to be good at fabricating mechs?! Even Clixie can spit out better parts than you! ”

”Miaow? ” Clixie raised her head for a moment.

”Meow. ” Lucky pressed her head back down with his paw.

The two Journeymen ignored their cats and went back to work as best as possible.

After a few learning pains, Ves finally achieved the necessary fluency he needed to operate the machines smoothly.

Afraid of earning Gloriana ’s ire, Ves made sure to concentrate as much as possible as he fabricated part after part.

For her part, Gloriana actually began to smile again as the quality of the parts all surpassed her acceptable threshold.

To someone with standards as high as Gloriana, that was very difficult!

Once they completed all of the parts, they inspected them again and replaced those that seemed to be a little wrong with substitutes.

Only when they became satisfied with the quality of all of the parts did they begin to move to the assembly stage.

The pair worked slower than usual in assembling their mech together.
Gloriana was especially sensitive towards mistakes.

With Ves continuing to take the lead, the Resentful Soldier started to become more and more whole.

The more the mech became complete, the more its aura became evident.
Its spiritual nature already started to affect the moods of everyone in the vicinity.

Gloriana slowed down.

Their bodyguards held their weapons tighter.

Lucky and Clixie lept back until they reached the other end of the hall.

Only Ves remained unaffected.
Since he created it, why should he fall under its influence?

Now that Gloriana no longer watched over his back, Ves finally loosened up and entered his groove.
He focused on his vision as best he could to ensure its X-Factor remained as pure and untainted as possible.

”This is kind of difficult. ” Ves muttered with a slight frown.
”Holding on to a positive emotion is much more helpful in fabricating a mech than concentrating on a negative emotion. ”

The Resentful Soldier, as its name suggested, mostly carried an ill will.
Its bad temperament and negative attitude were not very pleasant to maintain.

He still persevered.
If he couldn ’t even handle a difficulty like this, then he might as well give up on fabricating mechs.

”I won ’t back down from this challenge. ”

The Resentful Soldier became more and more complete.
As Ves slowly put the final pieces together, the mech pulsed on a level that only Ves could sense.

”Complete. ” He whispered.

He calmly stepped back and admired the finished product alongside Gloriana.
They both studied the finished mech carefully.

Only after several minutes went by did Gloriana finally react.

She sighed.
”Not a masterwork.
A pity. ”

Ves gently caressed her back.
”It is too unrealistic to expect to fabricate a masterwork upon our first collaboration.
Our teamwork still needs some work. ”

Shortly after he started the fabrication run, he could already tell that there was little chance that the Resentful Soldier would end up as a masterwork.

Ves encountered too many problems, and Gloriana ’s frequent demands and interruptions constantly interrupted his flow.

With all of these complications, it wasn ’t surprising that Ves failed to enter an inspired state.

”It ’s okay.
I ’m fine. ” She said.
”The Resentful Soldier is still a success.
Just not a great one.
Its quality is more than satisfactory. ”

Even if Ves hadn ’t done a perfect job, that didn ’t mean he had done a sloppy job.
With a single masterwork under his belt, his mech affinity had risen to a height that was difficult for others to reach.

With the help of his increased mech affinity, Ves could still rely on his strong intuition and grasp on his skills to fabricate a very fine mech.

”The quality is more than enough to outshine the works of most Journeymen and Seniors. ” Ves confidently stated.

To be honest, Ves had hoped to achieve more.
If the quality of the mech was higher, then Ves could apply one of Lucky ’s gems to cheat his way into completing his second Masterwork.

Even if this method was a little dishonest, the increase to his mech affinity was very real! With such a rich reward on the line, Ves would readily give up one of Lucky ’s rarest gems to obtain a permanent improvement in his ability to work with mechs!

Sadly, that wouldn ’t happen today.

As Ves was about to order the Resentful Soldier to be shipped to a testing ground, Gloriana raised her hand and halted him for a moment.

”The Resentful Soldier isn ’t very expensive, Ves.
It doesn ’t cost us anything to fabricate another copy.
Why don ’t we try again? ”

That was a very valid question.
Should they try again or settle with the current copy of the Resentful Soldier?

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