his growing catalog of designs.

BP-A-01 stood for Black Phoenix, Arkhan, first published edition.

If Ves wanted to update the design, he ’d change the code for the Mark II version to BP-A-02.
If he wanted to design an aerial variant, the code changed into something like BP-S-01.
In short, every update or variant using the Blackbeak as a base began with BP.

While he tidied up his project files, he also sneaked in some time with the System and submitted his design to its discerning gaze.
The program spat out its evaluation of the Blackbeak almost instantly.

[Design Evaluation: Blackbeak BP-A-01]

Model name: Blackbeak BP-A-01
Original Manufacturer: Ves Larkinson
Weight Classification: Medium
Recommended Role: Offensive Knight

Armor: A-
Carrying Capacity: B-
Aesthetics: A
Endurance: A
Energy Efficiency: B-
Flexibility: C-
Firepower: D
Integrity: A-
Mobility: C+
Spotting: E
X-Factor: C++

Cost efficiency: C
Project involvement: 100%
Original component composition: 7%

Overall evaluation: The Blackbeak is a remarkable third-class offensive knight design that excels in lengthy conflicts.
Its unusual balance between armor and design enables pilots to employ it in a variety of circumstances with abundant flexibility.
However, its lack of notable strengths also demands a high level of skill and judgement to pilot the Blackbeak to its full potential.

[You have received 1000 Design Points for completing an original design that has no other equivalent.]

[You have received 500 Design Points for designing a mech with a moderate presence of X-Factor.]

”Damn it! I got so far and I still haven ’t broken through my previous record! ”

His X-Factor score showed that he had reached the extreme end of the C range, yet it didn ’t enter into B territory.
Ves felt a little bitter about that.
Even though the growth element incorporated into the design should strengthen its X-Factor over time, it wouldn ’t be able to show off its potential at the time of purchase.

The System ’s lack of fanfare around his first original design felt a little off.
It treated the Blackbeak the same as the temporary designs he slapped together during competitions.
This should have been a major milestone for him.
He at least expected a present or something.

”Can ’t you say anything nice for once, System? ”

[User, keep working hard on developing your ability to design mechs.
You are on the right track!]

Ves threw up his hands.
”Whatever. ”

He forgot about the System and turned to his timetable.
His administration already prepared the submission procedure.
He only had to hand over his first production model along with some hard copy documents to the MTA to begin the validation process.

The validation process was mainly a souped up certification process where his design and his physical copy would be judged according to a very strict standard.
Once his design passed muster, Ves gained the right to exploit the design through MTA channels.

Some mech designers skipped the entire process.
This was mostly the case with more renowned designers or those who worked for powerful entities like the governments of second-rate states.

Submitting a design to the MTA entailed revealing all of its strengths and weaknesses to one of the largest powers in the galaxy.
For designs meant to turn the tide in a war, such a massive exposure could spell defeat for the design, so under these circumstances, the MTA never got to peek at their inner workings.

Quite obviously, Ves hadn ’t reached that point yet.
In order to convince his customers to purchase his mechs, he needed to make its details more accessible.
Ves even planned to add the Blackbeak ’s design to Iron Spirit in order to let the public get a taste of its wonders.

The design phase formally ended when they loaded up the design aboard a secure transport arranged by Sanyal-Ablin.
The security company would send it over to the MTA ’s branch in Bentheim as soon as the next convoy left from Cloudy Curtain.
Ves didn ’t have to be present at the MTA unless they called for him, so he remained home this time.

Ves sank into his sofa at the lounge with a tired sigh.
”It ’s finally done! ”

”I ’m curious. ” Raella drawled as she sipped on a drink.
She recently finished a routine patrol in her Vectrix.
”When will you develop a skirmisher variant? ”

”The Blackbeak isn ’t a good platform to develop lighter mechs. ” He replied, not even giving it a serious thought.
”It ’s a bit difficult but not impossible to develop a rifleman mech out of the base model, but I ’m better off designing a dedicated skirmisher from scratch. ”

I guess you won ’t be giving me a new mech any time soon then. ”

”Don ’t feel too bad for yourself.
While I ’m attracted to the idea of designing a rifleman mech, I ’m not sure I ’ll be up to the task. ”

”What ’s holding you back? I thought you knew a thing or two about laser weapons. ”

That was an understatement considering that Ves even knew how to build a graser rifle.

”The weapon isn ’t the problem.
It ’s the musculature that ’s an issue.
Rifleman pilots demand exact control over the movements of their mechs.
I haven ’t taken these priorities into account when I designed the Blackbeak.
So again, it ’s better for me to come up with a new design than try to pigeonhole a knight into a rifleman. ”

All of this went over Raella ’s head.
She quickly got bored of the topic and finished her drink.
She threw away the container, which a spare cleaning bot deftly caught in the air before it could soil the floor.

”Hey Ves, I ’d like to ask you something. ”

”What ’s up? ”

”I ’d like to take a few days off.
Nothing happens in this boring dump anyway and all of those spooky assassins seem to have disappeared into nothing.
So I ’d like to take a trip to Bentheim to have some actual fun. ”

Ves frowned at that.
”I ’m not too comfortable seeing you go out alone.
Besides, we just visited Bentheim a short time ago. ”

”That was for business, not for fun.
The only thing I did was sit in my mech all day waiting for someone stupid enough to piss me off.
Just let me go, please.
Besides, I won ’t be alone. ”

”Is Melkor asking for leave as well? ”

”Nah, he ’s a straight shooter who can stand guard at the same post for years on end if needed. ” Raella shook her head.
”I already made some plans with someone else.
You see, I ’m kind of dating Dietrich right now… ”

Ves sat up straight at those words.
”What?! ”

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