br>This took a lot of work and demanded him to exert his utmost.
The seventy-five percent premium he charged for the ruby label was a matter of principle.

”There may be a way if you join some events.
If you show up at a fair or exhibition, you ’ll get the opportunity to make your case in front of an affluent audience. ”

”I ’ll think about it. ” He responded, though he privately objected to the idea.
He partnered up with Marcella so that she could handle all of his marketing and sales.
”Once I ’ve finished my business in Leemar, I ’ll come by so we can hash it out. ”

Once she signed off, Ves slumped forward and held his head in his hands.
While disaster hadn ’t struck his business while he was gone, he faced increasingly dire circumstances.

The Barracuda spent a couple of weeks racing from the edge of the Komodo Star Sector.
The closer she got to the center of the sector, the more traffic she encountered.
With the expert navigation of her pilot, the Barracuda never came close to other vessels while she transitioned into a star system.

During the quiet voyage to Leemar, Ves spent most of his time cooped up in his stateroom.
Designing an original mech was never an easy project.
The lack of existing boundaries provided mech designers with endless choices.

Mech designers had to possess a strong vision as well as solid skills to come up with a good design.
Since Ves had some free time on his hands, he visited the Clifford Society ’s Star Library and read as much free books as possible.

He mostly spent his time on deepening his foundation in Battle Mechantronics.
The Skill provided him with an overarching perspective on designing melee mechs that he couldn ’t easily get anywhere else.

While his Battle Mechatronics hadn ’t advanced to Journeyman-level in these couple of weeks, he did gain a lot of benefits from his reading.
His expanded range of knowledge counterbalanced his earlier infusion of knowledge that came tinged with Master Olson ’s perspective.

”What do you think is better. ” Ves asked Melkor while they consumed their latest meal.
”A mech that ’s decent but will last forever or a mech that ’s slightly better but breaks in twenty years? ”

Melkor rubbed his visor.
”That ’s a difficult question.
It ’s an open question that depends on many variables.
The Mech Corps is rather slow to adopt new designs, so they highly value mechs that can take a beating and keep going.
Mercenaries on the other hand are used to the consumer culture of buying a mech and using it for a set amount of years before replacing them with a new one. ”

”I see.
So the Mech Corps is taking the long view of things while the private market cares more about immediate performance. ”

With his current capabilities, Ves had no chance of taking part in the lucrative business of selling his mechs to the government.
He had to stick within his means and focus on the mercenaries and corporations that made up his existing clientele.

”What kind of design do you have in mind? ” Melkor asked.
As a mech pilot, he knew how much the first original design reflected on the career of the mech designer.
Anyone who had the guts to publish a deeply flawed design as his first product could never fully get rid of the stigma he accumulated on his debut.

Jason Kozlowski was a good example of this phenomenon.
Releasing the bloated Caesar Augustus design at its current form gave him a reputation of having too much money but not enough sense.

”I ’m designing a knight. ”

Of all the archetypes he designed so far, Ves achieved the most success with the knight.
His Young Blood virtual design achieved the most sales out of his catalog of virtual mechs.

Additionally, his only real production designs consisted of hybrid knights.
While the Marc Antony Mark I and IIs inherited some of the baggage from the base model, Ves also learned a lot of lessons on how to design a good knight.

”That ’s a good type to start with. ” Melkor replied, though he also added some caveats.
”You should be aware that there ’s only a limited appetite for knights.
Rifleman mechs sell the most, followed by the various types of light mechs such as scouts and skirmishers.
A typical mercenary squad consists of one knight, three rifleman mechs and two other mechs. ”

”I ’m aware of the differences in sales. ”

The reports Marcella sent to Ves largely echoed those figures.
A knight played a limited role on the battlefield.
The most common mech doctrines centered around the flexible rifleman mech, which could fulfill a variety of roles even if they didn ’t excel in any of them.

In comparison, a knight could only be employed as a defender or as the leading element of a charge.

Despite these limitations, Ves wanted to stick to what he knew best for his first original design.
If he tried his hands on other archetypes, his lack of experience might result in leaving behind a huge flaw when he finally published his design.

”A knight is solid, simple and robust. ” Ves mused.
”Its harder to go wrong with a knight as opposed to a rifleman mech.
Then again, the market is stricter about knights because the mech pilots has to trust in his machine in order to absorb blows meant for others. ”

Occasionally, a few scandals erupted in the news about knights.
Usually, a hardcore mech geek studied a knight design in detail and managed to find a small but critical vulnerability.
Any opponent that applied pressure on this weak point could instantly cripple the unsuspecting knight.

Any mech designer that suffered from this scandal retired from the business in disgrace.
Mech pilots trusted their products to guard their lives.
To have them turn into death traps due to negligence and incompetence represented a profound betrayal of the mech designer ’s creed.

Ves had to be very careful in this matter.
Still, he possessed a decent amount of confidence that he could deliver a successful product.
He already formed a vision on what his upcoming design should be.

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