Professor MacDonald of the Ansel University of Mech Design confidently highlighted some of the key innovations and solutions of their Dawnbreaker design.

The Ansel Seniors weren ’t afraid of copycats.
At their heights, few could beat them in their own specialties.

Ves knew for certain that — in his current state — he had no hope of designing a mech that outperformed the Dawnbreaker in all of its aspects.

He could never design a better flight system than Professor MacDonald.

He could never design a better ballistic weapon system than Professor Xu.

He could never design a better armor system than Professor Taphouse.

He could never design a better neural interface than Professor Summit.

He could never design a better cockpit than Professor Miller.

As a mech design that combined the specialties of five renowned Seniors, the Dawnbreaker offered an extremely compelling set of advantages that not even Masters could replicate by themselves!

The abstruse effects of all of the design philosophies applied to this midrange mech design must have stuffed it full.
In fact, Ves bet that interference and loss of efficiency probably reduced the strength of each Senior ’s individual specialty to a degree.

It didn ’t matter.
The whole was greater than the sum of its parts.
The Dawnbreaker possessed just enough advantages in many different aspects that the total package was exceptionally well positioned to function as the protagonist of the Sand War!

As for the Desolate Soldier, its mediocre performance and its supportive functions relegated it to the role of a supporting character.

Ves grimaced once he realized the devious strategy behind the Dawnbreaker.

”Looks like we ’re in trouble, Ves. ” Gloriana grinned as if she completely didn ’t mind this development.
”While our Soldier mechs are still secure in their own roles, the Dawnbreaker threatens to upstage our work and suck up all of the publicity we ’ve enjoyed so far.
It ’s not something we can counteract in the short term. ”

He had the confidence to beat any design that attempted to challenge his Soldier line directly.

Yet this oblique thrust the Ansel Seniors had come up with was much harder to deal with to Ves.

Neither of their products competed against each other directly.
Just as Ves focused on standing out in the market by relying on his strengths, the Ansel mech designers each focused on adding their own advantages to their collaborative mech design.

”It ’s fine. ” Ves eventually sighed.
”While it ’s true that we can ’t compete directly against the Dawnbreaker, we don ’t have to compete against their strong points in the first place.
What truly matters is to design a mech that best meets the demand of the market.
These Ansel Seniors are wise enough to focus on the value proposition of their work. ”

”What do you mean by that? ” Ketis asked in confusion.

”If we ever want to challenge the Dawnbreaker design, we shouldn ’t look to beat it in the parameters that it is strong in, such as its weapon system, its armor system, its propulsion system and so on. ” Gloriana lectured to Ketis and the rest of the design team.
”Competing against specialists in the area of their strengths is never a good idea.
The only result of our efforts will be a pale and uninspired imitation that doesn ’t reflect our design philosophies at all. ”

Ves nodded in agreement.
”Just the Sandbreaker ballistic weapon system is something that we can ’t surpass on our own.
From the introduction so far, this is an amazing solution that clearly surpasses the ballistic rifle that we ’ve designed for the Desolate Soldier.
Right now, I ’m seriously considering whether I should procure a license. ”

That caused the Tovar mech designers to look at Ves in surprise.
Their family never had a good relationship with the AUMD.
Instead, the Tovars favored the DCTI and other institutions that were far more aligned to the central government.

”Does it sound strange to you that I ’m willing to procure a license for the Sandbreaker weapon system? ” Ves declared after he saw the reaction he evoked.
”You shouldn ’t be.
As a professional, you should recognize your own strengths and shortcomings.
While I can design a decent ballistic rifle if needed, I ’m not as passionate about it as Professor Mimi Xu.
She deserves genuine acclaim for developing what is arguably the most effective ballistic shell against the sandmen! ”

Gloriana concurred.
”Don ’t let your feelings color your judgement.
Professional mech designers must have the awareness to channel their competitive nature in the right direction.
How would you go about competing against the Dawnbreaker, Ves? ”

”I would probably decide to design a midrange mech that is close to matching the performance of the Dawnbreaker.
My new work doesn ’t have to surpass the Dawnbreaker in performance, but it absolutely must offer a higher value proposition.
In order to do that despite my many advantages, I ’ll have to work hard to impart my mech designs with an exceptional glow! ”

”You hear that, little ones? That ’s the proper way to compete against a fellow mech designer! ”

”What if you license the Dawnbreaker and add a glow to it? ” Miles proposed.
”As long as your variant retains the same strengths as the base model while benefiting from your characteristic specialty, won ’t it be a superior product? ”

Ves and Gloriana glanced at each other and shook their heads.

”You used to be an independent mech designer, right? Have you ever thought about progressing by upstaging your competitors by borrowing their own mech designs? ”

An awkward silence ensued.

”While it ’s a valid response, it ’s not a proper one. ” Ves sagely spoke.
”Variants are derivatives of other people ’s works.
They don ’t fully reflect your own efforts.
If you can only compete in the market by borrowing from the success of other mech designers, where does that leave you? In a decade or two, your rivals who diligently designed their own mechs have progressed much further while you ’ve stagnated because you haven ’t accumulated any practice and experience in designing mechs from scratch! ”

All of the junior mech designers got caught up in the high-mindedness of his argument.
Miles looked particularly inspired!

”Trying to upstage a rival by developing a variant of their own work is a dead end.
Do you think you understand them better than their own designer? If I licensed the Dawnbreaker, I don ’t think I ’ll understand at least twenty percent of what is going on in the design! I don ’t have the knowledge base and specializations to decipher all of their properties, let alone tweak them in a way that suits my purposes better! ”

”Besides, regardless who designs a better mech, the original mech designer will never lose! A portion of the money that the LMC can earn from selling a possible variant of the Dawnbreaker will flow in the pockets of those Ansel mech designers! ”

”Ah. ”

Hopefully, this was sufficient to suppress any improper suggestions.

As long as his rivals played by the rules, Ves did not feel inclined to bring out his dirty bag of tricks.

It was a different story if Ansel crossed a line.

”The press conference isn ’t over yet.
Pay attention. ”

Once Professor MacDonald finished presenting the Dawnbreaker design, the spotlight finally fell to the mechs standing beside the mech in the center.

”The Dawnbreaker is our principal commercial mech design, but certainly not our only one.
We have concurrently developed two variants of this fine mech to suit different needs. ”

The mech placed to the left looked less impressive than the base model.
Ves could immediately tell that its armor system simply wasn ’t as good.

”The Duskbreaker design is our budget solution to those who require a more affordable solution.
While it lacks the compressed armor system of its base model, the Duskbreaker is still a significantly more resilient mech than comparable machines in the market! ”

That was an indirect thrust against the Desolate Soldier.
Ves could already judge that while the Duskbreaker was a budget mech, it was still a few million credits more expensive than his own work.

Was it any surprise that its armor was tougher than the armor of a cheaper mech?

Unfortunately, the price difference was small enough that most customers would probably group them in the same category.
That was to say, if a mech buyer didn ’t care about a glow, they would vastly prefer to buy a Duskbreaker!

”Don ’t be fooled by the affordable price tag of our Duskbreaker mechs. ” The centenarian Senior continued.
”In almost every other aspect, it is identical to the Dawnbreaker.
Only a minimal amount of cost adjustments have been made to ensure that a mech pilot that is used to piloting a Dawnbreaker will immediately feel at home in the cockpit of a Duskbreaker! To smaller outfits that can only afford to buy a limited number of Dawnbreakers, a Duskbreaker makes for an excellent spare to keep in reserve! ”

That sounded like a fairly brilliant arrangement to Ves.
Even if an outfit didn ’t have enough space in their carriers to bring any spares, they could still transfer their best mech pilots to a lesser but highly similar machine if they lost their primary mechs.

The spotlight faded from the left mech and intensified on the right mech.

This one was clearly an upgraded version of the base model.
Not only that, Ves and the design team immediately widened their eyes as they recognized some faint similarities to the Militant Soldier!

”This variant is our tribute to the Bright Republic ’s Mech Corps! The Novabreaker is our premium solution to the needs of our military! Not only does it perform better than its base model in every aspect, its armor system is vastly more resilient against the rapid-fire lasers that the sandmen are increasingly favoring! ”

The Novabreaker, coated in pearlescent cobalt coating, clearly looked the most magnificent of all! The Ansel mech designers clearly hadn ’t neglected to compete against Ves in terms of visual flair!

His blood couldn ’t help but boil when he saw this mech design.
The reaction from mech pilots, particularly those in the military, must probably be even stronger!

This was a mech that was worthy enough to serve as the steeds of true soldiers!

Gloriana clicked her tongue at the sight of this impressive military mech design.
”This Novabreaker has come at a very bad time for us.
It ’s a direct competitor of our Militant Soldier design! ”

Not only that, but they hadn ’t published the Militant Soldier yet! Even though they were just a week away from completing the tests and putting the finishing touches on the variant, the fact was that the Novabreaker was one step ahead!

The quality of the Novabreaker design and the reputation of the Ansel Seniors was enough to ensure that it would enjoy a great amount of momentum in the Mech Corps!

Many mech regiments which were still on the fence on what kind of mainstay they should adopt in the Sand War.

Ves had intentions to convert at least some of them to his Militant Soldier.
Yet just as he was about to reveal the culmination of his efforts, the Ansel geezers stole the thunder that was meant for him by announcing their Novabreaker first!

The first-mover advantage they managed to capture was extremely strong! Ves was sure that a lot of mech officers who learned about the fantastic Novabreaker model would immediately start discussing whether they should procure it for their own mech regiments.

If the Militant Soldier wasn ’t released during their deliberations, then Ves missed a significant opportunity to increase his influence in the Mech Corps!

As Professor MacDonald wrapped up his presentation, Ves sighed and slumped in his chair.

”What a great counterattack! ”

”Are you mad? ” Gloriana softly asked.

”Ha! ” Ves grinned as his eyes burned with competitive spirit.
”I ’m not! If Ansel thinks they ’ve managed to press me down, then they ’re sorely mistaken! The Sand War won ’t end so soon.
We still have plenty of time left to design other mechs.
Besides, the Desolate Soldier still enjoys an unassailable position in the mech markets! ”

I think it ’s kind of silly that Ansel is targeting you in the first place.
Don ’t you think it ’s absurd that the only way they can compete against a pair of Journeymen is to combine the efforts of five established Seniors? ”

”Hahaha! That means they ’re scared! ”

The LMC was not going to rest on its laurels.
The Soldier product line was just the start of a new era in its history! Ves had many more ideas in store to elevate his mech company to the forefront of the mech market!

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