Ves felt as if he turned back to three and looked at a catalogue of model starships.
Even though Ves developed a love for mechs early on, he also enjoyed other marvels.
What kind of kid didn ’t fantasize about gallivanting across the galaxy in a modern and fully crewed starship?

As the owner of the Barracuda, Ves enjoyed owning the sleek corvette, even if he hadn ’t traveled on it all that much.

It was the thought that counted.
He could always rely on a quick getaway as long as he owned his own vessel.
Many others couldn ’t say the same.

From the Age of Stars, humanity became increasingly more dependent on starships to run their entire society.
A single planet could never fulfill the needs of its citizen on its own.
Not in the long run.

During the Age of Conquest, humanity aggressively developed bigger and better starships.
The states that emerged during this time measured their military might against the aliens and each other by the size of their navies.

Armed warships began to become more prolific during this time.
With the development and proliferation of capital warships, weapons scaled to become more destructive as well.

With some cannons capable of cracking entire moons, warships increasingly lost their allure and turned into objects fear.

By the time the Age of Mechs came to pass, the Common Fleet Alliance worked hard to remove the dread and stigma associated with warships.
They disappeared from the public eye, whereupon weapon-less starships began to make a comeback.

With the ascendancy of mechs, a demand emerged for starships equipped to accommodate mechs instead of general heavy equipment.
Mechs packed into standard-sized containers still fit fine in all sorts of cargo haulers and transports, but mech forces couldn ’t be bothered with packing and unpacking their mechs in the middle of a warzone.

”We need ships that can launch and retrieve mechs immediately. ”

Mech carriers emerged from two different strains.
Ship designers modified the classic assault carrier designs that used to convey infantry or tank units from planet to planet.
Mechs required a lot more vertical space in the hangar and launch bays, so the first combat carriers quickly became very expensive.

Since such expensive vessels was out of reach for most private sector outfits, many clever ship designers started taking old, decommissioned hulls and converted them into improvised mech carriers.

These carriers converted from old cargo haulers and all kinds of other starships with large cargo bays didn ’t seem very reliable, but they did the job without breaking the bank, and that was what mattered the most.

Of course, Ves would not consider buying these rust buckets.
He could afford something much better.

In between converted carriers and combat carriers existed a special ship classification called light carriers.
It basically took the best of the two former classes and combined them into an economic but somewhat capable ship class that was the favorite of medium and large-sized outfits everywhere.

Ship designers utilized thick plates cheap civilian-grade ship armor and a highly reinforced internal structure and hull.
This gave the light carriers a lot more resilience in direct battle, though they would never be able to withstand the amount of punishment that combat carriers could endure.

More importantly to Ves, light carriers utilized their internal volume much more efficiently compared to converted carriers.
The former had been designed from the ground up to accommodate mechs, while the latter only tacked on that feature afterwards.

”We ’re going to need two big ones or three smaller ones. ” Melkor stated as they sat behind a console and stared at a projection of commercial starships.
”With forty mechs, give or take a few, it ’s very difficult to find a good ship that can fit twenty mechs at once. ”

Ves nodded next to him as he navigated through the virtual portal.
He narrowed down the selection of the catalog to light carriers that fell within his budget.

Every light carrier that fit twenty mechs cost at least more than 2 billion credits.

Even if Ves could afford such hardware, he almost had a heart attack when he saw the prices.

”These prices ramp up really fast! A light carrier that fits fifteen mechs only costs a bit more than 1.3 million credits right now! ”

This meant that Ves would be better off buying three smaller carriers than two bigger ones.
He would have to spend at least 4 billion credits to accommodate forty mechs, but he could also pay 3.9 billion credits to fit forty-five mechs instead.

The latter seemed like a better deal overall until he realized that he needed to pay for the upkeep of three ships instead of two.

”Three ships allow us to bring more spare mechs or supplies, but it ’s going to be difficult finding good crew for all of them at this time. ” Melkor noted.
”You ’re the boss, Ves.
I ’m fine with whatever you decide. ”

It depended on what Ves demanded from the Avatars of Myth.
He initially established them because he wanted to stop relying on other forces for protection.
He wanted to command over his own force of mechs that he could rely on to accompany him through these tumultuous times.

Ves weighed the matter and came to a decision.
”I think it ’s best to stick with two light carriers for now.
Right now, it ’s a bit too troublesome to get three new ships up-and-running in a short amount of time.
These larger carriers may be bigger and more expensive, but they bring more benefits as well. ”

The bigger ships not only carried more mechs, but they also offered larger workshops and cargo holds.
The extra storage would especially come in handy in expeditions that involved resource extraction.

In order to drive down the cost, the smaller carriers squeezed as much space for mechs as possible, leaving very little room for other cargo.

”It ’s a good choice in the long run. ” Melkor nodded.
”Look at this model.
The L ’Aquitaine Shipyards Asperion Mark IX. ”

The Asperion Mark IX cost 2.3 billion credits, but for a ship that carried twenty mechs, it came with additional bonuses above the bare models.
The Asperion in particular came with powerful thrusters seemed geared for quick landings and takeoffs.

”It ’s a very good ship model when you want to deploy in an active warzone, but it ’s not what I ’m looking for.
All of that performance comes with awful fuel economy and shorter range.
It ’s a good ship for warmongering mercenary corps, but I ’m looking for something with more reach. ”

Ves wanted a ship model that could match the extensive ship range of the Barracuda.
This would help a lot if Ves ever wanted to go on a distant expedition.

The pair browsed the catalog a little more and found another noteworthy ship model.
Melkor zoomed in on the Consolidated Starship Design and Assembly ’s latest light carrier, the Remar Martis ICG-7F.

”This Remar Martis has the best range out of the list.
It ’s incredibly fuel efficient and comes with larger fuel tanks as well.
While it won ’t be able to match the Barracuda ’s reach completely, it definitely comes close. ”

”Hmmm… ” Ves mused as he inspected the specs.
”The range is good, but I can ’t say the same for everything else. ”

”You ’re right.
I wouldn ’t bring the Remar Martis anywhere near a fight. ”

The ship designers working for CSDA prioritized range and fuel economy over protection and cargo space.
That might not sound so bad, but the ship cost 2.7 billion credits, which was way too overpriced in his eyes.

As a mech designer by profession, he could recognize when he was being ripped off.
CSDA marketed the Remar Martis for its range and fuel economy, but in truth it didn ’t cost that much to produce this model.

Just with mechs, armor cost the most of all.
No matter how sophisticated the engine and other internal components, they didn ’t cost nearly as much as an extra layer of armor plating.

”Let ’s look for ships with balanced specs.
I think every aspect is important. ”

He wasn ’t stupid enough to pick a perfectly balanced ship.
Boring ship models like that compromised on anything.
Ves still sought a ship with more extensive range, but not at the cost of everything else.

After an hour of scouring through the catalog, they came across an uncommon ship model from an obscure foreign shipyard that exported its products to the Republic.

The KSG Naval Works Trieste TRLC-343 fit all of their criteria.
The model possessed a generous range while managing to avoid skimping on armor and cargo space.
However, the light carrier was a little larger than most, and came with a pretty high price tag of 2.6 billion dollars each.

Ves fell in love with the Trieste designs.
The smooth curved contours of the ship complimented the sleek Barracuda, and the ship came with the biggest workshop compartment he had ever seen.

”The cost is a little much, but I can afford them if I want to.
What do you think, Melkor? ”

”I ’m fine if you want something cheaper.
The capabilities of the TRLC-343 look very good, but we can still opt for three smaller carriers if you want to save on money. ”

Ves shook his head.
”This is an investment for the future.
I think it ’s a mistake to skimp out on something as good as this.
Let ’s make this our first choice. ”

The Trieste seemed really good, but a couple of other models came close while demanding a bit less money.
With a selection of five different ship models, Ves decided to make his selection and place an order later.

”Let me first send this list to Captain Silvestra.
As a ship captain herself, she might be able to point out shortcomings that we haven ’t spotted. ”

It would be a mistake to base a major purchase on the spec sheets alone.
As Ves very well knew, many qualities of a product simply couldn ’t be fit into a set of numbers.

After he sent a brief to the captain of the Barracuda, Ves and Melkor moved on to expanding their roster of mechs.

”If I decide to place an order for two Trieste-class light carriers, I won ’t have enough money left to acquire thirty-one mechs at once.
Not if I want to leave some room for upkeep. ”

Even with his recent windfalls, Ves did not earn all that much in a personal capacity.
He drew practically no salary from the LMC as the founder, CEO and chairman of his own company, mainly because he never bothered to do anything about it.
Even if he decided to open the dividend spigot in the next board meeting, Ves still came up short.

Melkor showed his understanding.
”The Avatars of Myth doesn ’t need forty mechs at once.
It will take time to find some promising recruits and train them to a level where they can be of use.
I would much prefer it if you place an order for those carriers as soon as possible, because shipyards tend to take a long time to assemble and deliver them to their customers if they ’re made to order. ”

”You ’re right.
The Trieste is made to order.
Right now, KSG Naval Works has a waiting list of four months. ”

Ves held a lot of money, but it seemed that he always found himself penniless after another bout of spending.

”That ’s the price of power in this galaxy. ” Melkor said.
His lips curled up in a rueful smile.
”Small figures like me can ’t even dream about spending this kind of cash.
I really envy you, Ves.
Between piloting mechs and designing them, I would have gone for the latter if I knew you could earn this much money. ”

”Hahahaha! ” Ves couldn ’t control himself and laughed.
”That ’s the funniest thing I ’ve ever heard.
I used to dream about becoming nothing more than a mech pilot! ”

Both of them chuckled at each other.
They both knew that they weren ’t entirely serious.

Ves achieved much more as a mech designer than he would ever achieve as a mech pilot.
Melkor was a true Larkinson who could keep a cool head on the battlefield, but wouldn ’t know what to do in the workshop or behind the counter of a store.

”I have a good feeling about the Trieste.
They ’re pricey, but they ’re also beasts.
It ’s best to invest in them early in order to get them ready for anything that can happen in the future. ”

”You ’re the one who ’s paying, Ves.
Just keep in mind that most outfits don ’t spend nearly as much money on a pair of ships. ”

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