Chapter 3717: Better Tools
After the Larkinson mech designers who took part in the Minerva Project repeatedly confirmed that the final design was acceptable to them, they all boarded a shuttle that brought them out of the Spirit of Bentheim.
Each of them were on their way to the Cyclical Engine. The reason for traveling to the Cross Clan's factory ship was that Professor Benedict had graciously offered his high-end workshop to fabricate the Minerva Project.
This was not an easy offer to accept. There were pros and cons to accepting the decision.
The biggest upside was that Benedict's workshop was much more powerful and capable than the ones aboard the Spirit of Bentheim.
It couldn't be helped. The production machines used by Ves and Gloriana were still Hexer goods that used to be adequate back in the galactic rim but not any longer in the Red Ocean.
Ves had personally visited the Cyclical Engine not too long ago and confirmed that Professor Benedict's workshop was filled with much better equipment.
They could not only handle and process all kinds of additional materials, they also perform their work at a higher pace and degree of consistency than inferior machines.
The downside was that the learning curve was higher. The machines that Professor Benedict had picked out for his own work were not aimed for beginners.
If the Larkinsons hadn't already practiced with the specialized production equipment in virtual simulations, Professor Benedict wouldn't have agreed to let them use his workshop!
Still, Ves hesitated whether it was a good idea to fabricate the Minerva Project in a new and foreign workshop.
He was not concerned about leaking secrets. Professor Benedict participated in the design of the expert command mech from the beginning and was familiar with almost all of its weaknesses.
Ves didn't think that the man would ever abuse the sensitive knowledge he possessed on the Minerva Project.
The Larkinsons and the Crossers had grown close and Ves had also progressed his friendship with the Senior Mech Designer.
So what if the Cross Clan was familiar with the ins and outs of the Minerva Project? Soon, Ves would be in the same position as he would soon take part in the design of the Mars Project, which was a much more important mech to his counterpart!
The actual concern he was grappling with was whether he and his fellow Larkinson mech designers were able to work fluently enough with Professor Benedict's high-end production machines.
Even if he read the manuals and operated their virtual equivalents to gain proficiency, he still lacked real experience.
Ves knew quite well that these little details could disturb him and the others during important moments when they were fabricating the Minerva Project.
He did not forget that he had managed to fabricate three masterwork expert mechs with the help of his trusted old workshop equipment. He knew the settings and properties of the ELKINE production line inside-out and had tweaked their settings exactly to his liking.
More importantly, he had used them enough times while channeling his passion that a part of him had rubbed off on the equipment he used.
This had unintentionally imparted them with a bit of life of their own. While Ves wasn't sure whether this could make a difference at all, he at least managed to develop a greater sense of intimacy towards the machines that had helped him secure numerous fantastic achievements.
A part of Ves held the mindset of ‘if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. His familiar workshop had yielded him plenty of success and there was no reason to think that it would disappoint him this time.
However, another part of Ves wanted to move onto better equipment. The original Hexer production equipment might have been amazing to a mech designer who had recently escaped from a bunch of third-rate states, but as a leader of the Larkinson Clan, he deserved better!
Ves only needed to spend the equivalent of Gloriana's single handbag in order to get his hands on better gear. 120 MTA credits roughly translated to 22.8 billion hex credits, which sounded like a huge sum a few years ago but was not an excessive price for him to pay these days!
He was reluctant to upgrade his current workshop, though. Anything he could get for 120 or 1200 MTA credits would be substantially better than the ELKINE production line, but would still fall far short from a superfab.
Obtaining a superfab was one of his medium-term goals. To do that, Ves needed to raise tens of thousands of MTA credits, which was not easy considering the Larkinson Clan's debt burden and large expenditures.
Still, Ves was confident that once he completed a bunch of commercial mech design projects for the next design round, the Larkinson Clan's finances would look a lot better!
At that point, investing 30,000 or 40,000 MTA credits in a decent superfab was not impossible!
He planned to stick with the superfab that he would buy at that point for the long haul. He even wanted to look for a model that was more modular so that he could upgrade it more easily over time.
Wouldn't it be great if he used the ‘same' superfab over many decades of his career?
Perhaps he might even learn enough about fabrication technology that he could design upgrades for the machine himself!
Combined with investing it with life and imparting it with a touch of Vulcan, the superfab was bound to turn into a remarkable life artifact!
Ves just needed to be patient and earn enough money to reach a starting point. The superfab he intended to buy shouldn't be too shabby, so he disdained purchasing the cheaper second-hand goods that were usually sold for at least 10,000 MTA credits.
All of that was still too far away. For now, it was already good that he and his fellow Larkinsons obtained an opportunity to make use of Professor Benedict's high-quality workshop.
Although his relative lack of familiarity with the Cross Clan's production equipment was definitely a constraint, the potential rewards were much higher.
There were always limitations to tools.
It was a lot harder to cut down a tree with a butter knife as opposed to a woodcutter's axe!
In turn, a woodcutter's axe was much less efficient than a modern saw!
Better gear translated to a higher base and ceiling in output. As long as Ves was able to use his new tools well enough, he could potentially surpass his previous best work!
After a short trip, the armored shuttle smoothly landed in the hangar bay of the Cyclical Engine.
A couple of guards and attendants met the Larkinson Mech Designers and guided them to Professor Benedict's workshop.
Upon entering the slightly familiar hall, Ves immediately spotted the Senior, but also encountered a handful of new faces.
"Patriarch Ves. Madame Wodin. Miss Stameros. Miss Voiken. Welcome to my workshop. Please come and meet your peers in person. This should be the first time that you have all met in person."
The Larkinsons approached the group of Crosser mech designers and awkwardly shook hands. They had briefly met during various virtual meeting sessions but never interacted on a serious level.
The two groups weren't actually comparable. Even if they were all Journeymen, their potential and accomplishments were entirely different!
The Cross Clan wasn't a particularly attractive destination for mech designers and Benedict probably recruited this batch by looking for specific qualities.
Gerin Itoran, Demilo Tarvus, Ritin Kaaise, Ascasca Terrine and Archibald Uzu emerged from different parts of the old galaxy. After they somehow managed to enter the Red Ocean, Professor Benedict somehow managed to get them under his banner.
Their ages ranged from 44 years to 76 years, which meant that they belonged to the older generations compared to the Larkinson Mech Designers.
"The professor has assigned us to assist your group for the upcoming session." Archibald Uzu, the oldest among them, politely explained to the Larkinsons. "We will not be fabricating any parts ourselves as we have not made any significant contributions to the Minerva Project. We will primarily help with the logistics and the various preparations, so please feel at ease and devote your time to the work that matters."
"That sounds good. I trust you know what you are doing." Ves nodded in understanding. "
Having genuine Journeymen ready to assist in a fabrication run was luxurious treatment. Professor Benedict must have been highly effective at establishing his expertise among these Crosser Journeymen. Otherwise, these dignified mech designers wouldn't have embraced a role that was ordinarily relegated to low-ranking mech designers.
Of course, Ves was not blind to the other possible motivation that the fivesome harbored. Each of them wanted to see the ‘legendary' Miracle Couple in action!
Both Ves and Gloriana possessed a lot more prestige than their peers! Almost no other Journeymen succeeded in earning genuine masterwork certificates at this stage in their careers!
Therefore, the dynamic in the workshop was definitely a lot more hierarchical than normal. The Larkinson mech designers held themselves with a lot more confidence than the Crosser mech designers.
Their ages didn't matter in the mech industry. Only their rank and accomplishments mattered. Those with inferior skills and abilities could never earn true respect from their peers if they tried to throw their weight around.
This was why Mr. Itoran and company did not dare to hold their heads high at this time.
Ves wasn't particularly interested in getting to know them better either. If one of them managed to excel and develop a brilliant new design application, then he might change his mind, but for now he had more important matters on his mind.
After they got past the perfunctory chit-chat, Professor Benedict clapped his hands.
"I will give you all an hour to examine my workshop and make your various preparations. If there is anything you need, please say so. While the Minerva Project belongs to your clan, I look forward to adding another strong addition to our collective fleet."
Each of the mech designers that were about to work on the Minerva Project did not set out to produce an average quality expert mech.
They were aiming to match or exceed their best! They would never be fully satisfied with their attempt if they failed to make a masterwork mech this time!
"We will need the presence of the designed mech pilot in order to improve our final product." Ves spoke up. "I have taken the liberty of inviting Commander Casella Ingvar over. We have a special technique that can substantially improve the alignment of the mech to its intended user."
"We will bring her to this workshop when she arrives."
During the next hour, the mech designers all made their preparations. All of them seriously inspected the production machines and made sure that none of them were different from their expectations.
Gloriana and Juliet also performed their usual ritual by asking for a blessing from the Superior Mother.
Since they hadn't brought the original statue of the Superior Mother to the Cyclical Engine, they had to make do with prostrating before a small altar.
The entire sight looked odd to the Crosser mech designers.
Ves helplessly shrugged. "I find it best to just let them do what they want. When it comes to matters like these, any source of confidence can make a difference. Even if it is silly, it doesn't matter as long as the final outcome is good!"
He would butcher innocent pakklatons if that helped with producing a masterwork mech!
What did it matter as long as he was able to add another extremely strong mech to his lineup?
The value of a masterwork expert mech far surpassed that of a regular expert mech!
The latter was not a worthless machine, but the former simply brought too many benefits. Machines like the Shield of Samar and the Everchanger not only accelerated the growth of their mech pilots, but also had a much higher chance of helping Jannzi and Josh undergo their second apotheosis!
For this fabrication run, Ves and the others wanted to try their best to provide Commander Casella Ingvar with the same opportunity!