though I already know the type of pie I want to bake, I still don ’t know if I want the filling to be apples or blueberries. ”

He had to be careful with acquiring the right component licenses.
With stagnant profits, Ves could not rely on his company to raise more cash in the event he wasted his current savings.

The main problem he faced right now was that Ves felt apprehensive about drafting an initial outline for his design.
He vaguely sensed a gap in his mind that warned him that he missed something essential to design a good original mech.

Over the past couple of months, this feeling grew stronger, to the point where it even haunted his dreams.
Specters of possible futures where he introduced his first original design with bombast, only to be ridiculed by the mech industry happened every night.

”What am I missing? ” Ves puzzled over his conundrum.
Was it experience? Inspiration? Skills?

Even without spending his DP, Ves considered himself to be amply prepared for the task.
Many other Apprentice Mech Designers published their first original designs without the help of the System.

Leaving out the freaks and the direct disciples, Ves should be one of the most prepared Apprentice Mech Designers without an original design in his belt.

Perhaps he needed a break.
Ves had worked non-stop for the last couple of months.
Even though he mastered his new equipment and refined his Assembly skills through constant repetition, he still found the work to be tedious, especially since he had to focus his mind to imbue his mechs with the X-Factor.

”I ’ve been wondering if you were still human. ” Chief Cyril joked as Ves admitted his frustrations.
”You ’ve worked harder than any of us.
Even I take a couple of days off.
The way you ’re putting all your passion in your mechs is admirable, but if your entire life resolves solely around designing and fabricating mechs, then you ’re no different from a human-shaped bot. ”

The remark startled Ves.
When was the last time he put down his work and relaxed? He couldn ’t even recall something as simple as that.
”It ’s not easy getting my company up its feet.
I only got this far because of all the effort I put into my career. ”

Even Carlos shook his head when he heard those words.
”Ves, you ’ve got to learn to relax.
Even when we studied at Rittersberg, we still partied a lot, remember? What happened to the old Ves? ”

”The old, average loser Ves made way for a successful founder and mech designer. ”

”You ’ll die an early grave if you keep that up. ” Cyril warned with a serious tone in his voice.
”I get that you ’re focused in your work.
You always achieve great results when you put your full heart and soul into your mechs.
But damnit, you ’re draining your life! ”

”What is that supposed to mean? ”

”What I mean is that you should find some meaning in your life! Get a hobby, play some games, go on a vacation! Hell, the best way to cure workaholism is to get a girlfriend! ”

”Hah! Don ’t talk about girlfriends with Ves! It ’s his sore spot. ” Carlos snorted.

Ves automatically ignored any talk about getting a girlfriend.
Instead, he fixated on a particular term his chief technician uttered.
”Find the meaning in life, huh? ”

For the first time in months, Ves got the sense that he grasped a straw in the dark.
The puzzle that forced him to stall his plans to design an original mech became a bit more comprehensible.

His subordinates showed him the light.
Even if they joked around a bit, they still showed their concern.
Besides mechs, Ves really had nothing else to occupy his life.
Small things like playing with Lucky or talking to his relatives over the comm didn ’t count.
He lacked any form of fulfillment besides his work.

To be honest, even if he realized this deficiency, he still felt reluctant about spending time on something else than progressing his career.
He truly enjoyed designing mechs and running his company.

”What else can I do, then? ”

”A lot of mech designers back in Rittersberg joined a club.
There are countless clubs that cater to overworked professionals like you.
There ’s golf clubs, painting clubs, gaming clubs, drama clubs, shuttle racing clubs and more.
Whatever hobby you can mention, there ’s a bunch of men and women who enjoy doing their hobbies together.
Everything is better if you share it with others. ”

That sounded fine on a major planet like Rittersberg or Bentheim, but a lightly populated planet like Cloudy Curtain probably didn ’t offer such a sheer variety of clubs.

Besides, Ves didn ’t even know what kind of hobby he should take.

Fortunately, Chief Cyril had some sage advice for him.
”You should look into a creative pursuit rather than a sports activity.
Mech design involves both art and science.
While it ’s necessary to be proficient in science and engineering, you also need to flex your creativity.
Many mech designers find a hobby for themselves to find inspiration for their next designs.
Their ideas don ’t fall from the sky, you know. ”

His chief technician ’s words resonated with the doubts that lurked in his mind.
He forgot about this essential truth in mech design.

The creative element distinguished mechs designed by bots from mechs designed by actual humans.
Even though the latter might be prone to flaws and inefficiencies, the creative solutions employed by a human designer often led to better results on the battlefield.

The whole industry revolved around this nuance.
The sheer variety of mechs being designed every day led to a vibrant mech market where a customer could ask for a mech in any possible shape or form.

While only a small portion of designs achieved commercial success, even the failures added something of value to the industry.

All of this enlightened Ves to the need to enrich his life.
Without any other life experiences, how could he know what was best for his original design?

That still begged the question of what kind of hobby he should pick up.

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