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Chapter 2125 Fair Deal
Ves left Calabast’s office with a pensive expression. He clutched Lucky to his chest as he slowly stepped out and smelled the oil and metal from all of the mechs on the move.
A squad of mech pilots jogged right past him as a number of heavy-duty lifter bots transported some depleted energy cells to the nearest power generator. A lone silver-coated Desolate Soldier marched around a corner while a number of teenage Larkinsons sat next to a dormant Aurora t.i.tan in order to enjoy its soothing, protective area.
“Yeah. I don’t relish getting scammed, but Calabast is right. This deal can’t be weighed on its financial merits alone.”
When Ves marched across the base, greeting a lot of friendly clansmen along the way, he finally reached the secure workshop, where the Little Angel still resided.
Security had loosened up after fabricating the masterwork mech. However, a squad of mechs from the Glory Battalion as well as several other mech companies still loomed close.
As soon as he entered, he immediately experienced the overlapping glows emanating from both the statue and the Little Angel.
The effect was so strong and cloying that Ves felt a bit uncomfortable. Where there was nothing fundamentally annoying about his supportive glows, he did not wish to spend his time under the influence of this particular design spirit.
Ves may have imparted a more boy-friendly ideology to the Superior Mother, but she was still very much a Hexer! True equality and respect towards boys and men was still in short supply!
“Ugh.” He grunted.
When he approached the Little Angel, he already saw Gloriana buzzing around its frame like a busy bee. She no longer scanned or did anything special with the mech. She simply rubbed her hand on the smooth metal texture of the masterwork mech’s armor plating.
“What a beautiful mech you are.. you are so perfect.. mommy doesn’t want to let you go, but you deserve to go out into the galaxy and fulfill your purpose. No matter what, mommy will never forget about you..”
For a moment, Ves felt the urge to turn around and leave, but he really needed to talk.
“Gloriana! Could you come with me for a moment?”
“It’s important! Just get down here!”
It took a bit of cajoling before she finally agreed to leave the Little Angel’s side. In order to hold a private discussion, Ves led her to a familiar office before closing and locking the door.
He then proceeded to explain DIVA’s offer.
This finally caused Gloriana to turn her thoughts away from the Little Angel.
“I don’t see why you would refuse.” She spoke. “Lending our strength to the Hexadric Hegemony is a n.o.ble endeavor. If the Filthy Fridaymen win the Komodo War, our people will lose everything! Our culture and our way of life will disappear!”
Ordinarily, that should have been a cause for celebration to Ves. Unfortunately, not only was he on the Hegemony’s side, his mother’s life and wellbeing also depended on its success!
“We can’t ignore the profits we forgo if we sign on to this deal.” Ves emphasized.
“You obsess too much about money! Even if DIVA stands to make a hefty profit, the deal still sounds fairs. Don’t forget that DIVA not only has to open up its own sales channels, but also do its best to build up a market for your mechs. There is no stomach for mechs designed by boys at the start, and persuading all of those conservative, rigid-minded matriarchs to allow your mechs to be fielded by the Hex Army is not a given.”
“Yes but…” Ves hesitated. “If we designed a second-cla.s.s mech for another superior state, then as long as its successful, we could earn enough money to build up a factory s.h.i.+p by ourselves!”
“You’re still in the Komodo Star Sector, Ves. Entering the market of another second-rate state in another star sector is easier said than done. The compet.i.tion of the more open mech markets is extremely compet.i.tive, and there are often a lot of other complications as well.”
To Gloriana, designing mechs for the Hegemony was partially a patriotic calling. She was much less inclined to quibble over the potential profits they signed away.
Though Ves understood her perspective and had his own reasons to help out the Hegemony, he still couldn’t get over the fact that he would be getting the worse end of the deal. His bargaining power shouldn’t be this weak, especially if DIVA thought highly of his mech designs!
Then again, Calabast already mentioned that DIVA was willing to provide a lot of benefits. Not only would he be able to obtain the factory s.h.i.+p fairly quickly, she would also come packed with advanced Hexer technology normally reserved for the Hex Army!
The material cost of all of those exclusive Hexer components and s.h.i.+p parts may not be ludicrously high, but their performance was always better! The difference between a military-grade factory s.h.i.+p and a civilian-grade factory s.h.i.+p was considerable!
Gloriana made an argument. “Besides, what DIVA is doing is treating us like a design studio. We are merely responsible for providing our client with the promised design. Our involvement ends there. The client will take the designs and do all of the heavy lifting with regards to producing, marketing and selling the mechs. It is not unusual for design studios to accept a fixed, upfront fee for their designs.”
She was right. The business model of a design studio started and ended with he mech design. All of the other c.u.mbersome issues with regards to utilizing the mech design became someone else’s responsibility.
In this way, a design studio and all of the mech designers working for it only had to focus on their core profession, which was developing a lot of mech designs!
Everything else was irrelevant to their job. It took hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of workers to perform the other activities. Expensive office buildings and manufacturing complexes had to be built. An extensive supply chain needed to be formed in order to make sure the production facilities ran smoothly and the mechs ended up in the hands of the end users as smoothly as possible.
Ves initially didn’t think about design studios because the Living Mech Company pursued a different business model. Much like many ambitious mech designers, Ves wanted to exert at least some control over the marketing and production of his mechs.
In theory, less middlemen resulted in more profit to the LMC! His company’s earnings would have been even better if it didn’t rely on so many third-party manufacturers to make its products.
This was one of the many reasons why Ves would benefit from owning his own factory s.h.i.+p.
“You have a point.” He told her. “Design studios earn less profit from their own designs, but in exchange they a.s.sume much less risk and responsibility. Pa.s.sing over the latter to DIVA means that it is fair to forgo other profits.”
It was difficult to put a solid hex credit figure on all of the other compensation that DIVA promised in return.
However, one look at Gloriana already made it clear that she didn’t want to take no for answer!
Designing mechs for the Hex Army was one of her cherished dreams when she was younger. She wanted to accept any offer that allowed her to design mechs for the Hexers fighting on the frontlines, even if she had to work for free!
Ves did not wish to deprive her of this rare and valuable opportunity.
Since their departure from the Komodo Star Sector loomed closer, it would be best if Gloriana gained some closure before she bid farewell to her former home. Contributing to the success of the Hexadric Hegemony was a great way for her to pay off her emotional debt to the state she pledged allegiance to. Otherwise, this debt would haunt her all the way to the Red Ocean!
As for him, the deal also aligned with his own intentions of making life difficult for the Fridaymen, which was considerably more important in his eyes.
He rarely had the opportunity to take revenge on those who attacked him or screwed him over, which made this window of opportunity all the more important!
He needed to teach the Friday Coalition a very nasty lesson in order to deter anyone else who plotted something similar in the future.
If a state thought they could nab him and force him to work on its behalf, he could threaten them back by designing mechs that were literally designed to tear it down!
Both of them soon agreed to take DIVA’s offer.
“How many mechs are you willing to design?” He asked. “Personally, as much as I want to help the Hexers out, I don’t think I can stomach designing too many Hexer mechs. Six sounds fine, but I don’t want our factory s.h.i.+p to be too weak. According to Calabast, DIVA will add 400 billion hex credits to our budget if we design two additional Hexer mechs.”
“Eight sounds fine.” Gloriana smiled. “It’s not close enough to cover every single mech type used by the Hex Army, but it offers us enough room to spread the Superior Mother in every battlefield situation.”
For this series of commissions, he only intended to make use of the Superior Mother. She was already versatile enough to adapt to many different mech types and Ves wanted to spread her influence as much as possible.
As long as a unit of Hexers contained a single mech with a glow, that was already sufficient to boost the entire unit’s comprehensive combat effectiveness.
His glows worked as a force multiplier and rarely as a source of direct strength. Instances where Ves had been able to add predictive power to the Deliverer was rare. It was enough to make the Superior Mother lift the spirits of every Hexer while depressing the morale of enemy Fridaymen within the range of her glow!
After an extensive discussion with Gloriana, Ves returned to Calabast but did not immediately give his a.s.sent.
She approved of his decision. “We both know that you’ve already made your choice, but that doesn’t mean we have to make it easy for DIVA. The agency works on behalf of the entire Hegemony, so its means are anything but modest. Since DIVA’s willingness to use mechs will only improve once the utility of the Blessed Squire becomes clear, your leverage will improve. Take some time to extract more concessions.”
With that, they decided to stall for time and quibble over the terms.
In the next few days, with Calabast’s advice, Ves demanded several concessions. Even though he suspected that DIVA probably guessed what he was up to, they still needed to go through the motions.
Though DIVA refused to increase the budget for the factory s.h.i.+p, the negotiators did relent on some smaller issues.
First, Ves had gotten a promise that he would be able to maintain possession on any future masterwork mechs that he and Gloriana produced.
He was not about to forgo the opportunity to earn a lot of MTA merits again!
Second, DIVA would make sure the large s.h.i.+pyard responsible for building the factory s.h.i.+p would complete her within 8 standard months.
This was very fast. The s.h.i.+p-building company would definitely have to exert all of its capacity to finish a capital s.h.i.+p within such a short amount of time.
Normally, it took years to construct a 2-kilometer capital s.h.i.+p!
Third, if the Hexer government ever interrupted the deal, Ves would still get his factory s.h.i.+p even if he was no longer allowed to design any additional Hexer mechs!
This concession was a bit more difficult to secure, but DIVA eventually relented. Ves did not want to get screwed a third of the way in if the Hexers ever decided that his mechs posed too much of a threat to their man-hating sensibilities!
It was up to DIVA and other friendly stakeholders to do their utmost to make his mechs acceptable for use. Ves did not want to pay the price if the spies failed to accomplish this basic necessity!
Fourth, the Hexers should lend sufficient trainers in order to teach the Larkinsons how to cooperate in every aspect of the vessel.
This was a detail that Ves did not miss out on. He could already tell that the factory s.h.i.+p would be so advanced and contain so many high-tech systems that third-raters would never be able to get a handle on her at the start!
Therefore, Ves wanted DIVA to send over knowledgeable and experienced s.p.a.cers in order to teach the Larkinson crewmen how to man the factory s.h.i.+p.
The trainers, which could potentially amount to a hundred, only needed to stay with the Larkinson Clan for a couple of years at most. During this time, they could also operate the essential systems of the factory s.h.i.+p themselves, thereby preventing many possible disasters!
“It’s very clever of you to think of that.” Calabast complimented. “The free specialists will be invaluable at the start.”
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