Whenever Ves and Gloriana worked on the Adonis Colossus project, they no longer avoided discussing their views on men, boys and masculinity.

Neither of them expected to change each other ’s views.

Ves considered himself a man.

Even if he knew that this assertion essentially fell on deaf ears to Gloriana, he tolerated her views anyway.

It helped that they both shifted the crosshairs away from him and placed it on Vincent instead.

Ves had much less qualms about disparaging Vincent ’s qualifications as a man than his own.

He cared little about betraying every other male as long as it wasn ’t him who suffered!

”Boys like Vincent are too self-absorbed to realize that they ’re no good. ” Gloriana self-righteously explained.
”According to my personality analysis, his sense of self as a man is nothing more than a sop to prop up his fragile ego.
His early life and his violent breakup with the Ricklin Family would have broken him if he hadn ’t turned to masculinity for support. ”

”You have a good point. ” Ves nodded in agreement.
”From what I ’ve witnessed, Vincent is much less of a man than he thinks.
Compared to the male relatives in my family, Vincent is too inferior.
He was lucky to become a potentate, but what did he do? He dickered in his training and when he finally grew a little serious about piloting mechs, he defected to the Bentheim Liberation movement! ”

As a result of their disregard for Vincent ’s masculinity, the Adonis Colossus project suddenly went off the rails.
Ves and Gloriana completely discarded their original intentions and the intentions of Vincent to pursue a crooked direction!

Instead of trying to make the custom mech personify the perfect masculine ideal, the Adonis Colossus now centered around appeasing someone they both considered to be a manchild!

Since the Adonis Colossus was just a custom mech meant to be paired with only a single person, Ves and Gloriana merely had to narrow the theme of the Adonis Colossus.

Instead of designing a mech that embodied the perfect masculine ideal, the mech now centered around Vincent ’s masculine ideal.

This crucial difference prevented Ves and Gloriana from pressing each other ’s views too much.
They managed to hold onto their own views and tried to fit them together.

Strangely enough, it worked.

The project proceeded harmoniously as neither Ves nor Gloriana clashed any further.
The common element that connected their diverging views together was their penchant for badmouthing Vincent!

Ves mainly concluded that Vincent was all about false bravado.
Compared to the heroic Larkinson mech pilots who selflessly served in the Mech Corps in the name of duty, Vincent was much more pathetic.

His battle record was mixed and frankly disappointing.
Whenever Vincent was in a battle where his side was ahead, he eagerly behaved domineering.

Whenever his side fell at a disadvantage, he was one of the first to retreat and save his own skin!

”Vincent has little courage to speak of. ” Ves remarked as he adjusted the shoulder launchers of the Adonis Colossus design.
”The strong image he portrays in public is merely an insubstantial image.
As long as you apply a sufficient amount of pressure, the image breaks. ”

As for Gloriana, she adopted the predominant Hexer mindset that men were all immature at heart.

This patronizing attitude towards the opposite gender colored the Hegemony ’s entire perspective on the male gender.
Every Hexer routinely diminished every grown man by treating them as boys who would never grow up, unlike wise and clever women!

No matter how smart, strong or dignified a man became, Gloriana automatically converted each and every one of them into a boy!

Ves wondered if Calabast still looked at men in this light.
For a woman as frighteningly competent as her, it was probably natural for her to dismiss most men!

At the very least, Ves felt that Calabast ’s attitude towards him had always been similar to a mother admonishing a naughty boy!

He gritted his teeth as he recalled his past interactions with the Hexer spy.
Ves never had the impression that she treated him as an equal.

Even their supposed ’partnership ’ was just Calabast imposing herself in his orbit without his consent!

After all, a mother never needed to gain her son ’s permission to intervene in his life! As long as the boy was too premature to take care of himself, it was the duty of a mother to care in his stead!

That was the essence of Hexer views on the male gender!

If boys were left to fend for themselves, then all kinds of awful outcomes would ensue!

Boys becoming in charge of a state would doubtlessly become tyrants who exploited their subjects and pursued destructive conquests!

Never mind that the Komodo War broke out when the Hexadric Hegemony struck the first blow by commencing Operation K!

While Ves still felt offended in some ways, as long as Gloriana directed her views elsewhere, he could tolerate them.
He felt no obligation to defend other men from Hexers as long as it didn ’t affect his interests!

Traitor of men? Hah! Whether he was Ves or Veronica Larkinson, his gender never played a major role in his self-esteem!

In other words, Ves regarded himself as a mech designer rather than a man!

Sticking to this principle made it a lot easier for him to brush aside Gloriana ’s views on his gender.

”How would you treat me if I was born as Veronica Larkinson instead of Ves Larkinson? ” He curiously asked her one day.

”Huh? Where did that come from? ” She looked at him oddly for a moment.
”I would love you all the same.
Is Veronica the best name you could come up with if you were born a woman? ”

Even Gloriana valued him as a mech designer rather than a man or a boy!

Their pride in their profession and their compatible design styles bound them in a way that made every other difference manageable.

The fact that they managed to reconcile some of their differences on the Adonis Colossus project was proof that they could work together.

The only problem that ensued by adopting this changed direction was that the custom mech might not match their client ’s intentions anymore.

To a professional, this was a severe violation of trust and contract.

Gloriana became increasingly disturbed.

”We have a responsibility as mech designers to deliver the product that satisfies our clients.
It ’s one thing to design a commercial mech that doesn ’t please many mech pilots.
They have the freedom to reject our product and turn their attention elsewhere.
This market interaction doesn ’t exist with private commissions.
The client approached us with a set of demands that we have promised to implement in our product.
How is it acceptable for us to turn around and deviate from our client ’s intentions? ”

Ves grimaced as she brought up this problem.
The issue had been weighing on his mind for a while.
The professional part of him agreed with her stance.

The proper course of action to take was to inform Vincent of their problems and try to seek some sort of accommodation.

He predicted that this would go very wrong.
Vincent possessed a very strong and specific view on masculinity that clashed with the immaturity and false bravado injected into the Adonis Colossus design!

It was impossible to reconcile these contrasting views!

Since nothing good came from acting professionally, Ves decided that he would rather act like a scoundrel!

He leaned into Gloriana and pressed her close to his body, causing her to blush.

”Look, Gloriana, boys like Vincent don ’t like being told the truth.
He thinks he ’s a man while he ’s really a boy pretending very hard to be one.
Instead of breaking this illusion, it ’s better for all of us if we indulge it instead.
The ultimate goal of the Adonis Colossus is to make Vincent Ricklin happy and to enhance his performance on the battlefield. ”

”I don ’t know, Ves.
It sounds a lot like lying and misdirection.
Didn ’t we swear an oath to the MTA to be transparent and honest towards our customers and clients? ”

Ves awkwardly chuckled.
”I don ’t believe any successful mech designer managed to abide by those oaths.
Sometimes, we need to be more..
Isn ’t that what your design philosophy is all about? This is a case where a different solution from the norm happens to be the more appropriate one.
We aren ’t here to enlighten Vincent Ricklin to the sad truth that he ’s nothing but a pathetic boy.
We are here to craft a mech that meets his needs.
Right now, the most convenient way to do that is to reinforce his fantasies. ”

”Fantasies are lies.
Isn ’t that a bad thing? ”

”Lying to reality is bad unless reality conforms to our lies, right? ” Ves retorted.
”Lies aren ’t always bad, Gloriana.
Lying is a virtue when the outcome is better than the alternative! ”

She still looked a little troubled.
”I don ’t know… ”

He leaned his head until it pressed against hers.
”We ’re mech designers.
Nothing more.
It ’s not our job to psychoanalyze our client and correct his misconceptions.
As professionals, we should abide by our competences and leave other matters to the professionals.
If we want Vincent to become a better person, then he should seek help from a counselor or a psychologist. ”

”Should we refer him to one, then? ”

If Vincent has a problem with himself, he can ask for help on his own accord.
Let ’s just leave him be and build the greatest toy that he can play with! Our work so far is already shaping up to be a remarkable mech! ”

He wasn ’t lying.
Now that they found some common ground, the Adonis Colossus had become increasingly more formidable.

Once Gloriana cast aside her doubts, her enthusiasm for the project returned.
She worked vigorously to make the Adonis Colossus in the best ’toy ’ for a boy like Vincent!

Never mind that Vincent was a grown adult and the Adonis Colossus was a fully-functional war machine that could unleash a lot of devastation in the wrong hands!

At their current design capability, the high complexity of the Adonis Colossus was hardly a problem.
Not only were they both capable of designing compact and efficient internal architectures, they also had a lot of room to work with, allowing them to be even more unconstrained than usual.

”It ’s actually to our advantage that Vincent wants us to design such a beefy mech. ” Ves remarked.
”We can expand the mass and volume of the mech to the limits of the medium weight class. ”

”And due to our budget, this limit is a lot higher than usual! ” Gloriana added.

There was no single mass or weight limit that defined whether a machine was a medium mech, a super-medium mech or a heavy mech.

The industry definition instead determined the weight class of a mech by a combination of factors that included both mass and acceleration.

A fairly standard spaceborn mech paired with a lackluster flight system possessed a much lower weight class limit than the same mech paired with a powerful flight system!

This led to the phenomenon where more expensive flight systems considerably raised the weight class limit of mechs!

As long as a mech accelerated fast enough to dodge a certain degree of enemy fire, then that mech was a medium mech!

It didn ’t matter if the mech was heavier than the Aurora Titan.
As long as its flight system was powerful enough to boost its acceleration to a respectable height, then it was no problem to label it as a medium mech!

That hadn ’t quite happened with the Adonis Colossus.
The Aurora Titan was a very hefty mech that moved and accelerated like a snail.

Nonetheless, by pairing the Adonis Colossus with an expensive new generation flight system that offered considerably greater propulsion than last generation models, the mech offered considerably more capacity than they initially expected!

The result was that the Adonis Colossus easily accommodated all of the weapon systems and other modules that ordinarily made every other mech crowded!

”A toy indeed. ” Ves murmured.

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